28 December 2010

2010--A Stitching Year in Review

With 3 more days left in the year, it's time to do a wrap up of the stitching year that was and to decide how 2011 will go down.

There was a lot to be ecstatic about this year. I managed to accomplish the goals I set for myself last year, as far as stitching only for SALs, freebies, UFOs and WIPs. I know I've said it before, but that's impressive for me. And I managed to complete 40 projects this year. That is pretty stellar, considering I was, um, kind of busy this year. I learned to sew a humbug, I finished a biscornu (granted, it needs to be repaired and a bit more stuffing added, but it served its purpose well as a ring pillow, and it's holding the pins that pinned my bouquet, at least til I find the perfect pin pillow ornament to use them on.

I stitched things this year that I'd been wanting to stitch for a long time. My single finish from the monthly cats by Pam Kellogg--oh, la, I've got to finish the rest of them some time soon. I finished that very cute Halloween Costume by BOAF--thank you again to Libertybelle for sending it to me. I loved the little "Reader I married him," by Casey Buonagario--I still need to mount that on a box as a pretty! I even found treasures I didn't know I had--Dragon at the Manger is one of my new favorite ornaments.

I found new designers through this stitching. I love the Hares series by Plum Street Samplers. I've already bought the Halloween one. I plan to buy them all--they look so cute. Ships Manor is a new designer with a fresh eye and cute ideas. And I was so glad I can finally say I finished a Kustom Krafts design. It might have been a freebie, but it was a cute one and it's still a finish.

So, looking forward, what are my goals for this year?

I want to exhibit in the fair again. I missed it this year. I missed it more than I thought I would. I will not make the mistake of being unprepared happen again. I have decided that, if I'm a bit more careful with my money and focus my stash budget into a framing budget, I can get more things framed and ready in time to enter. I don't want to win Best of Show this year, I want to be able to compete. That's enough for me.

I've signed up for the Challenge, and I have every intention of finishing all of them. Don't we all? But, in reality, if I can get 10 of the 15 done, I'll be happy. I still have a bit of kitting up to do, but I'll get it done. I'm ready to start--I've already sized up Day 1's project and am glad it's pre-sorted. But I'm going to enjoy the process, first and foremost.

My other main goal is to get ornaments finished. I got very few done this year. I've been so lazy or pre-occupied or what, but nothing got done. I've got to improve that. I know my problem; I try for perfection, and, if I'm not accomplishing that, instead of accepting it and trying to do better, I give up. It's probably not the best way to be, so I'm going to keep telling myself that I can't improve if I don't try.

As I've done before, I'm putting the list of my finishes for the year in this post. It's kind of nice to see what I've accomplished, even if I look in the future.

23 December--1989 Angel--Told In a Garden
21 December--Believe--Daffycat Designs
19 December--My Little Heart SAL--Sylvia
9 December--Blizzard Flake 4--Sanman
28 November--Doe and Fawn--Stoney Creek
24 November--Christmas Bells Hanging Pillow-The Sampler Girl
22 November--Snowy Pines--Little House Needleworks
14 November--Dragon at the Manger--Dragon Dreams
13 November--Spooky Time-Lavendar Wings
3 November-Halloween Costume-Birds of A Feather
2 November-All Hallow's Evening 2010-AuryTM
31 October--Ghouls Night Out-Sampler Girl
24 October--Dragonfly Morning--Elizabeth's Designs
21 October--Autumn Blessings--Plum Street Samplers
13 October--Bump in the Night-Ships Manor
25 September--Sweeping Cobwebs(portion)--Prairie Schooler
14 September--Blue Cat Scissor Fob-Cherished Stitches
28 August 2010--Hoppy Halloween-Little Old me Designs
20 August--Happy Pumpkin Day--Cathey Magill
19 August--Britty Puppy quilt square-Brittercup Designs
3 July-USA-Trail Creek Farms
2 July-Memorial Ribbon-CraftDesigns4U
26 June-By the Sea--Sanman Originals
21 June-Letter H-M Designs
7 June--March Inky Blackwork--Sanman Originals
27 May--Christmas Cardinal--Kitty and Me
16 May--January and February Inky Dinky Blackwork SAL blocks--Sanman
12 May-Reader, I Married Him-Casey Buonagurio
1 May--Christmas Carrot-Country Stitch
21 April--Irish Kitty-Kustom Krafts
13 April--Joy-Lizzie Kate
11 April-He's a Flake--Little House Needleworks
24 March-Lavendar Humbug-WOXS
18 February-Tudor Valentine--Debbie Draper
13 February--Pear Tree--Little House Needleworks
3 February-Fa La La-Plum Street
12 January--Hare Lines--Bent Creek
10 January--Midnight--Pam Kellogg
3 January-Pins and Needles--Sunflower Seed
1 January--Boo Club-Lizzie Kate

So, that's the end of this post, probably the last one for the year. I wish you and yours a joyful and blessed New Year. Let's all "Believe" in 2011: in ourselves, in our communities, in our world. We have a clean slate in the New Year, let's not waste it.

27 December 2010

The North Wind Doth Blow

It's cold here in Crazyville today, but we have no snow. I don't know if that's a blessing or not. I stayed home from the after-Christmas sales yesterday or from going to Mom's for some leftovers due to the winter weather warning we had. That turned out to be a false alarm and the bad weather was down in Southern Maryland and across the Bay.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas if they celebrated. Ours was OK. Left-brain spent too much on me. I thought we were on a budget this year, but he was very generous. I am snuggling in my new Baltimore Ravens hoodie. Now, I love the Cowboys, but the Ravens are my #2 and it's about time I had some gear! I look good in purple! I bought Left-brain a Ravens tee as well; I was afraid he wouldn't like it because it has foil on it, but I thought he'd look good in it, and it's not too "rah-rah" for him, and I think he liked it. My mom got me a really sweet nativity scene where the participants were Amish--I had told her about it, but never thought she'd get it in time for the holidays. I set it up as soon as we got home from the gift exchange--such teeny little figures! I also got my Breyer Christmas horse--I set him under the coffee table where I have the other ones I managed to get out of the display box. I have a fairly large vintage collection of Breyers, but stopped collecting new ones when I bought my first car because it was an expensive hobby and I got more use out of a new car than model horses, but I still get the Christmas horses, and I have to say I love them. The boxes are still difficult to open, though--I poked myself in the finger two or three times, trying to get them out on Christmas Eve. It took me a half hour to undo one, and to sort out its festive trappings, so those were the only two I opened. Left-brain's brother and SIL got us a pretty candle holder that I'm loving! It was great fun.

Yesterday was a day of recovery, since we couldn't go anywhere--probably for the best, really. I unpacked our gifts and arranged them under the tree. And I tried to clean up--the office has become a den of iniquity and disarray over the last few days, so I picked up in there, and also put the mancave into a bit of order. I have some stitching stuff to put away so that, when my family comes over for New Year's Day, they don't think we live like pigs, but I think it's all doable in the first three days of the week.

To reward myself for another Christmas season successfully completed, I started a new project yesterday. I'm now working on Minguistitch's Autumn Equinox, a pretty freebie that is A LOT more challenging than I had imagined. Right now, I'm working on her, I think, hair, and it's a tumbled mass of colors, without a lot of sense of where we're going, but it's OK. I never thought grey and flesh would work well together, but it looks good.

5 more days til I can start my January Challenge. I can't wait. I think I'll start working the afghan in as I finish charts. Since I have a few smallish charts, I'll try to get those finished quickly. I still need to dye some fabric for my Pinto chart--I'm thinking of dying an oatmeal flecked fabric blue. Maybe later this week . . . I'm still trying to decide if I should use some of the good dye I have for floss dyeing or just purchase a pack of RIT. RIT is much easier to use--no need to mix vinegar, detergent, or any of that--but the good stuff has a better range of color. Arrrghhh, decisions . . .

22 December 2010

A finish and some photos

Another finish for me! I loved this freebie from Daffycat and knew I had to stitch it as soon as she posted it. I love it. I was planning on finishing it for Christmas, but that may not happen, but I do have everything I need, so I may be able to.

I'm putting this back into my rotation, I decided.

It's an afghan I'm making of Diane Graebner designs. I've been messing around with it for a while, but it's time to buckle down.

And, lastly, a goofy picture of the dog. Proof that, in this house, if you sit still too long, someone is going to decorate you. I am very fortunate that he is so patient with me, but pitbulls were once called "the nanny dog" because they were so good with kids, and he must just view me as the big kid who must be humored. Yes, he will get handsomely rewarded by Santa, LOL

21 December 2010

The most beautiful thing

I lost an online friend yesterday. We never met in person, but, when I heard the news, I sat on our steps and cried. She was a very kind lady, with a vibrant spirit, who loved nature, especially her beloved mountains, and was so appreciative of life, even when, before the lung transplant she got a few years ago, she'd accepted she might not make. I stitched a quilt square for her last fall. I'm still wrapping my head around how she could have survived a lung transplant and we lost her after surgery to remove a cyst from her back. I am so sorry she's not going to be here anymore, at least not in human form, but she is home, and she's healthy, and Heaven has a new angel this Christmas. I don't have much else to say today, but I found this. Lee would have liked it, I think.

The sides of the path were covered with white snow, but in the center, its whiteness was turned brown by the tramping of hundreds of hurrying feet. It was the day before Christmas. People rushed up and down the path carrying bundles, laughing and calling to each other.

Above the path, the long arms of an ancient tree reached up toward the sky. It swayed as strong winds grasped its branches and bent them toward the earth. Down below a haughty laugh sounded, and a lovely fir tree stretched its thick green branches, sending a fine spray of sparkling snow toward the ground.

"I should think," said the fir in a smug voice, "that you would try a little harder to stand still. Goodness knows you're ugly enough with the leaves you've already lost. If you move around anymore, you'll soon be quite bare."

"I know," answered the old tree. "Everything has put on its most beautiful clothes for the celebration of Christmas. Even from here I can see the decorations shining from each street corner, and yesterday some men came and put the loveliest lights on every tree along the path - except me, of course." He sighed softly, and a flake of snow melted in the form of a teardrop and ran down his gnarled trunk.

"Oh, indeed! And did you expect they would put lights upon you so your ugliness would stand out even more?" mocked the fir.

"I guess you're right," replied the old tree in a sad voice. "If there were only somewhere I could hide until after the celebrations are over, but here I stand, the only ugly thing among all this beauty. If they would only come and chop me down," he sighed sorrowfully.

"Well, I don't wish you any ill will," replied the fir, "but you are an eyesore. Perhaps it would be better for us all if they came and chopped you down." Once again he stretched his lovely thick branches. "You might try to hang onto those three small leaves you still have. At least you wouldn't be completely bare."

"Oh, I've tried so hard," cried the old tree. "Each fall I say to myself, 'this year I won't give up a single leaf, no matter what the cause,' but someone always comes along who seems to need them more than I do," and he sighed once again.

"I told you not to give so many to that dirty little paper boy," said the fir. "Why, you even lowered your branches a little so that he could reach them. You can't say I didn't warn you."

"Yes," the old tree replied. "but they made him so happy. I heard him say he would pick some for his invalid mother."

"Oh, they all had good causes," mocked the fir. "That young girl, for instance, colored leaves for her party indeed! They were your leaves!"

"She took a lot, didn't she?" said the old tree, and he seemed to smile.

Just then a cold wind blew down the path and a tiny brown bird fell to the ground at the foot of the old tree and lay there shivering, too cold to lift his wings. The old tree looked down in pity and quickly let go of his last three leaves. The golden leaves fluttered down and settled softly over the shivering little bird, and it lay there quietly under the warmth of them.

"Now you've done it" scolded the fir. You've given away every single leaf! Christmas morning you'll make our path the ugliest sight in the whole city."

The old tree said nothing. Instead he stretched out his branches to gather what snowflakes he could so they wouldn't fall on the tiny bird. The young fir turned away in disgust, and it was then he noticed a painter, sitting quietly a few feet from the path, intent upon his brushes and canvas.

The fir turned back to the old tree and said in a haughty voice, "At least keep those bare branches as far away from me as possible. I'm being painted and I don?t want you to mar the background."

"I'll try," replied the old tree. And he raised his branches as high as possible. It was almost dark when the painter picked up his easel and left. The little fir was tired and cross from all his preening and posing.

Christmas morning he awoke late, and as he proudly shook away the snow from his lovely branches, he was amazed to see a huge crowd of people surrounding the old tree, ah-ing and oh-ing as they stood back and gazed upward. Even those hurrying along the path had to stop for a moment to sigh before they went on.

"Whatever could it be?" thought the haughty fir, and he looked up to see if perhaps the top of the old tree had broken off during the night.

Just then a paper blew from the hands of an enraptured newsboy and sailed straight into the young fir. The fir gasped in amazement, for there on the front page was a picture of the painter holding his painting of a great white tree whose leafless branches, laden with snow, stretched upward into the sky. Down below lay a tiny brown bird almost covered by three golden leaves. And beneath the picture were the words, "The most beautiful thing is that which has given all."

The young fir quietly bowed its head beneath the great beauty of the humble old tree.

20 December 2010

A finish for me!

It feels like it's been forever since I posted a finish. But, last night, during the Pats-Packers game, I managed to put the last stitches in my My Little Heart SAL.

I did a lot more customizing on this than I originally planned, especially on the bottom row. Not only is May now used as October's chart, but the color of the hearts changed. The top row used 3801 as charted, which was great because we need a pop of color in spring, then summer used the hot 321 red, but I changed out the bottom row to 815, for a more muted fall palette. This meant I had to change the owl's leaves to 918. They were originally 606, a hot orange. It hurt my eyes to see that pop of orange, but I think 918 looks better and fits more with the colors. I also did some customizing on December's chart. I didn't like having a word on it, because there aren't words anywhere else on the piece. So I spent the better part of the weekend at work, tossing around ideas while we were slow between patrons. I thought about moving the heart up top and putting a cross in the space inside the stable, but my co-worker suggested I put a star up there, so I came up with a really simple star. I like it.

And the entire piece. It feels good to get this done before Christmas. Now I have a few days to work on something small.

If I don't post between now and then, Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas!

14 December 2010

Photos of the Final 15

I did a lot of thinking over the weekend. The Winter Blackwork, while I love it, requires JAR threads, and I don't want to order those, or try to work out a conversion. At least not right now, so I changed to Patriotic Summer by Midsummer Night Designs.

Here are photos of the final pictures. Some of them are not the best. Beazer was assisting me and he didn't warn me, LOL. He did get himself into the pictures. Pardon his nose . . .

A Nuisance of Cats.

Icky Spooky, by Mosey N' Me.

Sugarplum Fairy, by Country Cottage Needleworks

Pegasus Originals Schipperke

Eva Rosenstad kit, which I will stitch on PTP Crystal Mercedes.

Bent Creek Snowman Row

Midsummer Night Designs Patriotic Summer

Lizzie Kate Official Snowguide

Ms. Mitchell's First Grade Christmas Pageant (I'm really excited about this one, LOL)

Prairie Grove Peddler A Cat's Life

Diane Graebner Taking Care of our Deer Friends

Sampler Girl Hope Perches

Jeannette Crews Pinto from the book, "Wild Horses."

Waxing Moon, No Scaredy Cats.

I also have It Snowed last Night on the list, but I don't have a picture of the finish.

Plugging away

Thank you for the nice comments about my My Little Heart. I'm still plugging away at it. I'm almost finished with August's square, and am excited about getting towards the end of the project. I spent the weekend working on the border--does anyone else hate working on borders? This is probably one of the reasons I don't do RRs anymore; not only have I had to deal with people keeping the projects way longer than they were supposed to, but I just don't like doing the delineating part of it. It's a wierd stitching quirk of mine, LOL. I will post a picture of my progress later today.

I'm kind of torn as to what to work on next. Daffycat gave us a really sweet "Believe" freebie a few weeks ago that is calling my name, but I'd also like to have my Sanman Inky Dinky SAL completed by the end of the year. I hope this is possible--I'd like to have Believe on my tree on Christmas. I'm thinking Believe is the theme this year. I spent all year hoping and believing I'd have a beautiful wedding, and I firmly believe 2011 will be a better year for us all. At least I'm hopeful, but I think if enough of us dare to hope, it will improve.

I'm doing my Christmas shopping tomorrow night; hopefully, I'll get most of it done. I have a couple things bought and tucked away, but this has been a difficult year. No one seems to want a gift, because they think they're inconveniencing us to ask. We're gifting those people with a box of candy I'll make. Left-brain claims he doesn't need anything. We've made a decision we won't have a "big" Christmas; we did get a lot of nice stuff this year as wedding gifts, and he did buy me a beautiful sweetgrass basket when we were in Charleston; I had been daunted by the price of them and it was more than I could have hoped for, but he got a good deal on it, and it's one of my "pretties". So we're restricting our purchases to small fancies and practical things. It's not been an easy thing to accept--I was always a person who thought Christmas was a time to fulfill my loved ones' wildest dreams--but I'm realizing that we have our most important dreams in having enough to eat, having decent clothes to wear, and having people to love us. We joined two families this year--that's a beautiful gift we gave each other. That's all we need. Everything else is cake. And, remember, I'm believing in next year!

I hope everyone is keeping ahead of the weather. It's windy here in Maryland. And bone-numbing cold. Keep warm!

10 December 2010

The 15

I've chosen my 15 projects for the Crazy January Challenge. I will try to post photos of the charts themselves a bit later. It was a very hard choice--I have a lot of stuff I want to do, but I did manage to go through and select the 15 that I LOVED, not just liked a whole lot.

Here is the list.

BC Winter Row
Waxing Moon No Scaredy Cats allowed
Cross N' Patch Miss Mitchells 1st Grade Christmas Pageant
Diane Graebner Sharing with Our Deer Friends
Pinto by Jeannette Crews
Sugar Plum Fairy by CCN
Hope Perches by Sampler Girl
It Snowed Last night by Erynne Chard
Icky Spooky by Mosey N me
A Nuisance of Cats by Yankee Stitcher
Pegasus Schipperke
Prairie Grove A Cats Life
My Mark Winter Blackwork
LK Official Snowguide
Eva Rosenstad(sp?) kit of horses.

I'm going to start the Eva Rosenstad kit on New Years Day, even though I'm going to be busy that day because we're having my family over for dinner and to celebrate Left-brain's birthday. I think that is the one that will take me the longest to stitch and it seems right to get it started early.

I know it's not the biggest, most impressive list, but I'm trying to set more reasonable goals, knowing that I still have other things I need to get done through the year--those Christmas charts being one of them, and my fair projects. I am very excited about the other projects--Ms. Mitchell's Christmas Pageant is a really sweet chart that I bought a long time ago, and just never got around to stitching, but I love it and Pinto is meant as a companion to my Chincoteagues piece. I'd like to frame it in the same moulding I used for the other one, but if they haven't, then I'll deal. It just feels like a fun list to me, and I need a fun year of stitching.

09 December 2010

My Little Progress

I've been working on this pretty steady this week. I decided to customize it a bit to make it match my 2010 a little better, so moved November into May's position. This is in memory of that fun weekend at the GTG, with the friends I reconnected with and the new friends made. This means I'll need to shimmy around with the fall months, but I think it will work out just fine. If not, it's just going on my wall. It's a work of pleasure, not something to stress over.

Otherwise, not much is going on around here. It's colder than blue blazes in Crazyville this week. No snow, but you'd be hard-pressed to think it couldn't when the wind picks up. We're heading out on Saturday to cut down our live tree--Left-brain has promised that we won't get a skyscraper tree this year. I am still dubious; I have heard this before and then he gets out in the field and it's like he forgets we have these conversations. I'm hopeful, though, since he's kinda tired of moving the china cupboard and dining room table around to fit the tree. I promise not to fuss if he veers off "the plan." It's a great day out with the family, and we make memories.

I got my prize from The Sampler Girl's raffle--a very sweet ornament for the tree. I will put it up when we finish decorating. It has been a good stitchy mail week--some Ebay winnings came in, along with a large order from 123Stitch. I was in a Christmas stitching mood this time because I ordered Butternut Road "Christmas Visit", Pickle Barrel Designs, "Cape Cod Christmas," Little Leaf Designs "Christmas Day," and two Christmas charts by "Of Generations Past, "To hear the angels sing," and "Christmas Lighthouse." It was a splurge, but this is my gift to myself for getting through this year, mainly intact, LOL. I won't stitch them this year, but they're here for next year.

I hope that this holiday season is providing you with a bit of magic and joy as we roll along. Til next time . . .

03 December 2010

My Little Crazy Heart

I think the My Little Heart SAL was "the" SAL this past year in a lot of stitching circles. I've seen some very beautiful WIPs through the seasons. It was so tempting. I have to admit, I wanted to do it right from the start, but I, um, procrastinate on a world-class level. And so, here it is December 3rd, and I'm finally working on it.

And I have to say . . . I love it.

It's not fancy, it doesn't call for expensive threads, just DMC on white fabric is suggested. I'm using MCG evenweave--I know, SHAME ON ME, LOL. But I learned to stitch on evenweave on this fabric, I can't tell the difference, and it works for me. And I'm really enjoying the process of stitching this. The hardest part was rounding up the threads. I bought most of what I need, but my Michaels is not that well-stocked, and there were a few missing. I'm replenishing those from my giant tub o' floss, but there are some I will just have to go to the big town for.

One of the benefits to starting a year long SAL 49 weeks into the project is that it gives me a chance, as I'm stitching, to remember the year that has gone by, now that things are starting to settle down. So far, we have January, where I was as blue as the snowman after jumping into the icy Bay in a snowstorm and my smile was just as big. February, where we had more snow than money, but a mountain of love that couldn't have been moved by a team of snowplows. Then March came and we started hoping beyond hope that spring was finally here. It's a nice project to end the year with. I'm hopeful I can have it done by the end of the month, but I'm leaving the date blank til I know I'm done. I'm not sure how I'll finish it, but I'm looking forward to seeing it progress.

02 December 2010

The Perfect Challenge

I was minding my own business yesterday when I read a posting from Riona. I've been looking for a theme for my 2011 stitching, or a challenge, and there, on my lovely stitching friend's blog was a link to
this challenge. Any challenge that means I get to start a new WIP a day is a good'un, so I'm signing up.

I now have to pick out and kit up my 15 projects. I don't think I'm going for gargantuan projects. I know better. I'm learning to set reasonable goals and it's not reasonable to want to do 15 large projects. So I'm looking at smaller projects, ornaments and such. I have some things kitted up that I will, no doubt, put on the list and of course, I'll work on UFOs in addition, but I want this to be a fun challenge for me.

Anyone else up for it?

01 December 2010

My cross stitch Christmas tree

I am posting photos of my cross stitch Christmas tree. I know some of the photos are not the best. I'll try to fix and replace them when I can. I got my finishing order back. I LOVE how she finished them!

Diane Graebner from an older JCS issue. Some of these are much older finishes that have been kicking around the unfinished finish box for too long. I love how the ribbon hanger matches the ribbon on the ornament. It's not a good photo, but you can also see the tree skirt I stitched the first year I was home after college, from those BHG Christmas magazines. We have used it ever since--I can remember, the $40 for the skirt itself seemed to be a MAJOR investment to a 21 year old, LOL. It's not backed with anything, and it has some sap stains, and some embedded cat hair from Lily, who loved to sit on it under the "Chri-ma tree", but I love it.

LHN He's a flake.

A Margaret Sherry from a calendar (maybe 2003 or 2004) from UK Cross Stitcher. I was never sure what I wanted to do with this design, then I decided it would make a good ornament. It was tricky to find lime-green Christmas fabric, LOL.

I have no idea who this is by but it was in a JCS. Not the 2004, though, that was just the year I stitched it. It is backed in the same red fabric as He's a Flake.

Some other ornaments. I stitched the Sanman. The finishing embarrasses me. My exchange partner, Dalene, stitched me the beautiful reindeer above it.

And the entire tree, as of now. I will put on some more balls to fill in when we bring home the real tree, and hang my animal ornaments on it.

Beazer and I already had the chat about leaving the tree alone. He seemed a bit aghast that I would accuse him of defiling something in the house, but the dog can't help where the drool flies. Or the tail wags. But he knows this is his tree (along with the twins and the cats--he has to share), and so I think he'll be OK. He at least will guard it, but I'm thinking it's probably not a good idea to put squeaky toys under it til last minute--he loves a squeaky toy.

30 November 2010

31 More Days

Tomorrow starts the countdown to the end of my year of stitching freebily.

A year ago, I set out on a vow to only start new projects if they were freebies. I could work on UFOs or already-started WIPs, and I allowed myself the "out" of continuing with SALs and stitching retail or magazine charts if they were needed for that. And there was the wedding pillow, and my fair project that never was, but those were the only exceptions to my rule.

I thought I would be limited, I thought I would rely very heavily on my UFO/WIP stash to keep me going, because I would hate just stitching free charts. Now I wish I'd gotten more free charts done. If I hadn't stitched those other charts, maybe I'd have had more time.

When I started this, I had very silly pre-conceived notions of freebies. They were simple. I wouldn't have a good selection to choose from. They wouldn't be as "nice" as a retail chart. But over the last year, I've learned there are some really GREAT charts out there for the mere price of printer ink and time invested in finding them. Charts that moved me, charts that inspire me, charts that make my heart happy. Charts that make me think we stitchers are pretty darn lucky, because the designers aren't making us pay for them. And there really truly is a freebie for everything; if I can find a dragon worshipping the baby Jesus, the sky is the limit.

What I have found this year that saddens me immensely is the number of charts shared on Multiply and other sites as freebie charts that were not intended to be free. That bothers me. Why steal a Mirabilia when Minguistitch does a free chart that is in the same vein, just as pretty, and LEGAL? Besides, everyone knows a Mirabilia; why not be the person who sets off a frenzy trying to locate the Minguistitch chart? It's just a thought . . .

But, for me, the thing that will mark this year is that I did it. I have a tendancy to set goals, then give up on them too easily when they require a little more effort than I want to put out. Discipline is doing something even when it's not always fun, and it did take some discipline, especially when the finishes weren't free-flowing early in the year. I know I could have easily said, "I don't want to do this anymore. I'm stopping the project," but I didn't. This feels important to me in my development as a stitcher and I wanted to get it accomplished. It feels good looking back and seeing that I'm so close to getting it done. I just have to stick it out through December, but I have confidence in myself.

29 November 2010

Happy Holidays!

I guess it's not too soon to say that? I have started wearing my holiday things--a Christmas cat pullover on Friday, a snowflake sweater yesterday to work, and today a sweatshirt with a Schipperke giving a snowman the hairy eyeball.

It was a lovely long weekend here in Crazyville. We enjoyed Thanksgiving with our families on Thursday. We got home at 11:30, stuffed to the gills with delicious food and thankful for the blessings the past year have brought.

My mom mentioned last week that she wanted to go to a greenhouse in Virginia to see their Christmas displays. I have vague memories of the area from when I took Chancey to puppy school over there many many years ago, so I took her. Robbie was quivering to get to go bye-byes with me, so we packed him up and went; Mom was afraid someone would steal him out of the car for a Christmas present, but I told her that was highly unlikely because he's old, he's got some bald spots and he's kind of annoying, albeit a cute annoying. Besides, we were 100 feet from the car at all time, and he would have given anyone heck for getting near the car; there's a reason I call the twins "The mouth of the South." It was funny, though; we pulled into the parking lot at the greenhouse, I looked to the left, and there was the building we had puppy school in. I think Robbie even went to school there, though he had a different class meeting time than his sister--the breeder asked if I wanted to go in the mornings with Chancey, but I had to work.

We had a nice morning, walking around, looking over the artificial trees. They were a bit nicer than my Walmart tree, but they had a price to match their beauty. I just couldn't see spending $400 on a Christmas tree, but I thought they were so lovely. I bought a few ornaments to hang on my tree--they were cute--and admired the way the trees were decorated. It would be nice to have a theme tree--they had ones that were just gorgeous, especially a red flocked tree with mittens and woolens all over it, but I know I couldn't stick to one theme, not really. I think teal and copper whimsy is limiting enough for me, don't you think?

I had to work Friday night, so I didn't want to come home, then turn back around to go to work down-county, so we had made plans to check out the new Hobby Lobby in Laurel, but when I got back to the house, I didn't feel well, so I took a nap for a bit. When I woke up, we did a flying run to the Hobby Lobby . . .

and, y'all, it was like the angels sang . . .

I love me the Hobby Lobby. I know I have said this before, but I just love it . . . in a way that probably doesn't make sense if you live near a Hobby Lobby that has been open for a while. But it's nice to be able to buy fabric, floss, home decor, gift wrap and good picture frames in one place. Michaels and AC Moore don't have all that together; AC Moore has a terrible frame selection. My aunt fell upon the cowboy art section like she had found her ancestral home; I think the angels sang for her too. She bought a cookie jar. I had more restraint--I bought some stuff I needed for finishing, and spent less than $10. But I'll be back.

Oh, yes, Hobby Lobby, I'll be back . . .

We hit up the thrift store after that. I didn't find much, just a music box with a tabby cat on it. It worked and was cute, so it came home. You find a lot of music boxes at the thrift store; do people get annoyed with them so quickly?

Saturday, I decided to open up the box my artificial tree came in, to see what sort of base it had. I have to say this, it's a really good tree for what I paid for it. Solid base, branches that you insert and fluff (I love having the option of taking out branches for a feather tree effect) and the branches are pretty thick. It also does not hurt if you have to stick your face in it for any reason--my reason was shoving the branches into the trunk. I did realize too late that my blue lights have a green cord, which sticks out on my white tree, but it will work. I know that Walmarts' selection of blue lights was not extensive, so pointless to go back and look, and it doesn't look bad. I hung the ornaments I had at hand on the tree, including Shocka's memorial ornament. I do admit, I started crying a little when I did that; I would rather have had him, snoozing next to Beazer, than to have the last connection with him be a little ornament, but I know that isn't how it was supposed to be.

Luckily, my sister-in-law and niece came up for the town Christmas parade. It was SOOOO cold, but we bundled up well and headed downtown. My resolution for 2011 is to become more aware of the local community, so it's a start. I'm still learning to embrace my city, even though I've lived up here for two years, so it was fun to just walk around and see what the city has to offer. And the parade was great! It was a long parade--we waved at all the floats, and oohed and ahhed over the pretty horses that marched. Just a really fun night, capped off with dinner and apple fritters at a little family restaurant that has great prices (I knew about that one--if it involves food, this fat girl knows about it, LOL).

I made a goal this holiday season to enjoy the festivities as much as I can. I know I spend way too much time in December working and worrying about how to make the holiday perfect. I realize now, perfection isn't found wrapped in shiny paper, or as a balance in a bank account. Perfection is an experience, savored and carried in our hearts: the perfect apple fritter, watching a child color a Christmas ornament, a heart-achingly beautiful version of "O Holy Night." And that is what I want my holidays to be about. That is my wish, and I think I'm on my way to that.

28 November 2010

I won! I won! I won!

I placed an order with the Sampler Girl on Wednesday and didn't know that there was a giveaway/contest involved. Today, I checked my e-mail and there was a list of winners.

I need to admit, I'm still not used to my married name. It's not that I don't like it, I'm just not used to writing it. You would think by now I would remember my last name is Harper. I'm used to it being Left-brain's name, I know I'm Mrs. Left-brain Harper. But I'm not used to being Rachel Harper. I still want to write my old last name, and so I have to focus extra hard. But I'm forcing myself to use it--I won't get used to it if I never make myself write it and use it. Especially now that I changed my bank account to the new name and new address. On Wednesday, I was a good little wife and put in the new name as my name. And just kept going.

Today, when I opened the email, I saw "Rachel Harper, MD" as a winner. My first instinct was, "Bummer, it's another Rachel. And not me." It took me a minute to figure out that it had to be me. And then I felt like a dummy. Maybe one of these days.

I'm just happy I won! Woo hoo!

23 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

No pictures to share on this post, but just wanted to wish a happy and joyous Thanksgiving to everyone. May your travels be safe, may your day be filled with light and love, and may we all remember the blessings of the year, even when they may be hiding behind the travails that occasionally occur.

22 November 2010

Twas the weekend before Thanksgiving . . .

and all through Crazyville, things were hap'nin! Left-brain went with a friend to a racing event in southern Maryland and they camped, so I was all by myself. I did my best to fill the time!

Saturday morning, I went to see Robbie and Chancey and get some new pictures. It was maybe not the best day to do so, LOL. Poor Chance. She just looks motley. Her thyroid condition makes her look slightly off all the time, anyway, and it doesn't help that she has that little thingy on her eye. It doesn't bother her, and the options to remove it didn't seem very savory, so we left it alone. She also has a pretty gnarly scar across her nose, courtesy of my brother's dog. And it doesn't help that she is greying. I told her it was nothing a bit of Miss Clairol and some plastic surgery wouldn't fix. She is still my girl and I tell her scars are tattoos with more interesting stories.

Robbie's recovering from a fall of hot spots. The vet gave him a really bad haircut to fix one of them. This is much improved from when it was new, but he now has a cowlick on his tiney hiney. He is embarrassed. I told him we'd cover it when he went to see Santa. He appreciates that--he states he has a reputation to uphold.

I managed to get them together for a picture on the back stoop. Pardon the construction dust--there was some badly needed repair work being done. Robbie looks a bit depressed, but he was OK. He just doesn't like being told to hold still.

It was opening weekend at the theatre I work at. All in all, it was not bad. I saw the show Friday night, and it was so good. The sets were magnificent, our cast brought their Broadway credentials into their performance and it was wonderful. I am not ashamed to say, I cried a little at the end because I loved it so much. And I bought myself a locket to wear when our VIPs came for the opening night party on Saturday night. They decorated the theatre for the holidays and turned it into a enchanted fairyland. How could one not be excited coming for a visit.

This is what you see if you drive down the road, projected onto the side of the actual theatre. I am ashamed to say I have worked at the theatre for three years, and only just figured out where they project the gobo from.

These are some of the snowflakes hung in the trees. They will be so beautiful if it snows. I'd like to ask where they got them, but thought better. They looked kinda busy.

Yesterday was our first cookie-baking run of the season. Caesar helped. I put his binky (our old mattress pad) on the kitchen floor and he joined me. It was exhausting work for him--he watched me get the ingredients for oatmeal butterscotch cookies out and immediately lay down.

When confronted about his lack of help, he claimed he was providing moral support, and wagged his tail. It was a pretty lame attempt.

He perked up when I started putting the cookies on the sheet. He asked me if I could let him lick the beaters. I told him absolutely not.

To which I got the "poor pitiful pitbull" face. It's taken years, but I'm immune to this face.

Now, it was not all mayhem, foolishness and canine hijinx. I got a lot of stitching done in between baking.

I held off showing off Spooky Time til I had the charm to finish it. I found little ghost charms on Ebay, and it worked perfectly for this when I put it on the 28 count Monaco

I finished Snowy Pines this morning. It gave me a lot of trouble that I hadn't been anticipating, but I love it. I will try to get it finished this week, so I can start putting up the tree this weekend.

And I started on the Christmas Bells Hanging Pillow from The Sampler Girl's "Kitty Kringle's Pattern Book for Christmas." The Christmas carol is rapidly becoming one of my favorite themes. I'm stitching it with the recommended thread, but on some opalescent aida I had in stash. I was originally going to stitch this for myself and hold off til January, but I am giving this to a friend who is putting up a Christmas tree for the first time in a long time this year. I hope she likes it.

Was it any wonder that the dogs were cutting up? It was a big beautiful full moon last night. We had a few light high clouds, and it was just amazing to sit and watch the moon. Left-brain came home and said he'd watched it the whole drive up.

Hopefully, this week will be a bit quieter. I'm planning on doing much finishing over the next few days. Metro Crazyville will be having the town Christmas parade, and we are going to that on Saturday night--it's my first Christmas parade, and I really want to be more appreciative this year. Left-brain claims he's going to clean out the garage this weekend, so I am sure I will be helping with that. Maybe it won't be so quiet. . .

19 November 2010

Hap'nings in Crazyville

Yesterday started the whirlwind season in Crazyville. This is a man-made whirlwind, LOL.

I mailed my finsihing off with great hope to the finisher. That was an adventure. My car is the mostly aptly named vehicle on the face of the planet: Trouble. I have problems with idiot lights on the dash going off, and of course the car is off-warranty. The tire pressure warning light comes on with great regularity, and does not go off til I put air in. Suffice it to say, living in the country where our temps go up and down like crazy, that light goes on all the time. It's not a particular tire that does this; it's all of them, when the weather sharply changes, the pressure goes up and down. All cars do it, but they only recently started putting this light in them. Apparently, the solution is to park it in the garage. I wouldn't know what that would be like, and we use our garage for storage. I've gotten really good at putting air in the tires, and I hate it. That light was on when I got in the car yesterday. I didn't have time to take it to the gas station for air, and I know the tires are not flat, so I drove it to the bank and then to the PO.

I got to the post office, and the people at my PO are wonderfully sweet folks. I got up to the counter and realized I didn't have the finisher's address. So I had to run back to the house, get it, write it on the label that the postmaster thoughtfully gave me, then run back to the post office, and mail it off. I am so hopeful to see how those ornaments turn out after the bustling trip I had to make.

Then, when I got back to the house, I decided to check the air pressure in the tires. It was down, but the tires aren't flat. That stupid light comes on when they're 25% under-inflated. Left-brain said he doesn't understand the point of that light because it happens and the tires reinflate while you're driving. I guess it's some government rule that it has to be on there because people were experiencing blowouts. It causes us much frustration, and you bet that I'm going to voice my extreme frustration when I take it in to the dealer. I did put air in the tires before going to the theatre last night.

Anyway, last night was my first night of work during the run of our holiday show at the theatre. I love the Christmas season at the theatre anyway, because we get so many children and I love how excited they get. They have such a pure enthusiasm and are so happy to be there, it really is a honor that they've chosen to make us part of their holidays. This year, they're extra-enthusiastic. We're doing Annie, which I have been looking forward to since the season was announced. When I was little, I adored Annie, after seeing the movie on vacation. I wanted to be Aileen Quinn; I had a head up on everyone else, having short, curly, reddish hair and freckles. I used to sing "Tomorrow" for my family; I think that was where they first figured out I could actually sing REALLY well. I had the locket; oh, man, little girls all thought we were something special if we had an Annie locket. I'm now on the quest for an Annie locket, LOL. So, for the next 7 weeks, it's going to be hectic at the theatre, but it's a good hectic! It's a joyful hectic.

17 November 2010

The gift of Stitching

got to me. I caved and resubscribed. They fought dirty, LOL. I had forgotten about the ornament issue. I already found three or four or ten ornaments I want to stitch. And I may buy some of the back issues. I really liked a lot of the designs I missed.

At least I'm moving forward on getting some of my other ornaments finished. I found a finisher, and I'm sending her four ornaments to finish for me. Some of them have been kicking around in the finish box for a while, so it's great to find someone who can get them done and finish them better than I can. I am crossing fingers she can have them done before the holiday.

Thank you for your kind comments on my Dragon Dreams finish. I really love her designs so much. And they have a difficulty level that I can deal with. Some specialty threads, but nothing impossible to find. And the finished effect is so precious. I have another one started; hopefully I can make progress on it in 2011, but I don't want to book 2011 up and never get anything accomplished, LOL.

After finishing Dragon at the Manger, I moved on to Snowy Pines, the 4th LHN Ornament for this year. And that's when the frog came a-callin'. I've had to pick out about half what I've put in. I don't know why; it's simple DMC on Jobelan, nothing fancy. Once I get into a rhythm, maybe it will go better. I'm hoping so . . .

15 November 2010

Hopefully this won't offend anyone--a new finish

I'm putting this out there, because I know how people feel about religion and it's too early in the week for me to want to make someone mad. Some people are very particular about depictions of Jesus, especially at Christmas. To me, it blends the things Christmas essentially is, the mysteries of faith with the magic and whimsy of childhood, but I appreciate others' feelings.

I have had this in my files since it was a Christmas gift in 2003. It's "Dragon at the Manger" by Dragon Dreams. I think it is probably one of my favorite things I have stitched this year, and I am becoming more and more enchanted with Dragon Dreams' designs as I stitch more of them. I did have a hard time finding a finish of this online for a backstitch guide, but I think I did it right--he doesn't look wonky to me.

I spent a lot of yesterday trying to figure out how I was going to finish it in a way that completes the "story". I toyed with stitching words over top and bottom, leaving it be as enough, but it felt kinda flat. I even thought I'd do a simple finish, and back it with glittering green felt, but somehow that didn't feel right; Jesus is not glittery! I've had this tuck since a Christmas card exchange last year. It was a gift--what a fantastic gift! I've been trying to figure out what to put in it, since it has a very small opening, and, when I was walking around last night, I remembered I had it. I guess it was just waiting for this finish. I think it's perfect; it feels like the little dragon and Jesus are in the forest, a very quiet and personal moment together, which really is how I view my religious faith.

Anyway, I hope my ramblings make sense. I really loved this piece, a pretty little respite from the bigger things I've been working on. I hope everyone is having a great start to their week.

14 November 2010

O Christmas tree

I have been looking for a new artificial Christmas tree for the past year and a half. The little tree I bought two years at AC Moore was too motley even for me after one use. Last year my mother gave us a white tree she had, but it had been left partially in sunlight and was yellowed too badly to use, so we ended up hanging the ornaments on the big tree. Which worked out well, because we needed a lot of ornaments to put on that ginormous tree.

So, this year, I decided to start my quest for a new tree early. My dream tree was very simple: green or white, unlit, 4 feet tall. Nothing trendy, has to make the hand-stitched ornaments look good, as well as the other ornaments I put on there--the ones for the animals. This wasn't asking the world, right? The in-laws gave me a nice check for my birthday, and I decided I'd use half of it for stitching-related stuff and the other half for responsible things. Well, I figured having a new tree to put my stitched ornaments on qualifies technically as stash, at least in Crazyville, so that was what I used some of my birthday money for. So, yesterday, I told Left-brain I was going out for a tree, and if I saw what I wanted, I wasn't coming home and discussing it, I was buying it. He knows that tone in my voice . . .
and just told me to be careful on my trek into the greater metropolitan Crazyminster area.

And I decided I wasn't buying the first thing I came onto either. So that meant going into three different stores that I figured might have trees in my price range. I'd already hit up Michaels on Friday, and there weren't any likely candidates there. Too expensive, and a lot of feather trees. I've had cats too long to buy a tree made of feathers.

Walmart was first--our Walmart is a bear to get into, so finding a parking place is half the battle. They had several possible candidates. 3 ft green tree, 3 foot lit white tree with colored lights, 6ft unlit white one and green one. A lot of choice, but I wasn't sure it was what I wanted. Besides, I was getting distracted by all the Christmas gift and food displays. Off to Target. I can restrain myself at Target. Particularly when they didn't have small trees and what they had was expensive. I wasn't trying to replace our big tree; we have a family ritual that we go cut our tree down and have a nice day out.

So I went off to Lowes, pretty sure I had found the tree at Walmart. Somewhere between Target and Lowes, I realized I wanted a white tree. I bought a bunch of teal and copper balls last year to decorate the little tree that didn't work, so why not just get the tree I envisioned last year? Well . . . Lowes had no unlit white trees. They had one with colored lights on it for $118, which was so out of my price range, LOL. Not that I couldn't have bought it, but I really didn't want colored lights on it. Lit trees are great--my mom has them--but what if I want to change the color? One year I might want red and green balls on the tree, and want lights to match that. So . . . while I was poking around Lowes, looking at their other decorations, I just decided that I'd get the Walmart tree.

I did pretty good. I bought the 6.5 foot tree. I looked at their tree toppers. None of them inspired me, so I looked at the ornaments, thinking if I just had a big snowflake I could wire it onto the tree. No go, but they did have something I realized I can hodge-podge together to make a fun and funky tree topper. I chose blue lights to go with my ornaments, and also as an homage to the tree my parents had when I was growing up, which used blue lights because my mom had had them growing up.

Left-brain is a bit confused, as I don't have that many hand-made ornaments. He said, "Where are we going to put this?" I gave him a look and said, "I have a lot of finishing to do. This gives room to make more ornaments." He gave up then . . . I knew I won when he said, "We're going to have that tree for a long time." He is excited, though; he even suggested we not cut down a tree this year. I think he was joking, but I told him we had to have the real tree too, LOL.

11 November 2010

Just call me a trendsetter

I'll explain in a second. Here are some stitching updates. I am so grateful to have so much stitching time. My work environment changed to working at home unless we want to come into the office and, between the 2 hour commute one way and the cold in the morning, I have been working from home mostly. Not only am I a happier person, and one who is more invested in my home life, since I'm actually THERE, and I'm able to do more around the house, like plan a meal that doesn't involve a drive-thru, and clean, but I have more stitching time. Left-brain is a lot happier too; a lot of the work was falling on his shoulders and that wasn't fair, but we also have time to enjoy each other's company. Even Caesar is happier; I went into the office one day this week, and he was so bummed when he watched me leave.

But my stitching is really picking up. Those four hours extra a day are making such a difference. I love it!

I had not posted a photo of the finished Halloween Costume. The fabric looks greyer in this picture than in regular light; it's a beautiful bright blue. I'm going to finish it simply and hang it on the Halloween tree, which is still out so I can finish this stuff up and hang it. I wouldn't invest in the Weeks if I were stitching this again. It's so little and the expense is really not worth it.

My progress on the Van Tassels' farmhouse. I've been working on the roof, mainly because I'm so nervous about the color difference between the skeins being obvious. I think it's OK. It just looks like a very weathered farmhouse roof.

Last is my progress on Spooky Time, a freebie by Lavendar Wings. This is my trendsetting moment. I pulled this for my Halloween SAL project, and someone on 123 wanted it yesterday. I decided it was time to start it. I had to frog some last night, but it's a fun little band sampler.

I did have to change a bit of how I planned to stitch it, It's charted for hand-dyes, but I am a bear about using those up. I am afraid they won't make them anymore and I won't have them. So I never use from my core stock of colors. I did purchase a single skein of Trick or Treat to do the portions that called for that, as there is no DMC equivalent. I thought I'd have the DMC at home to use. Last night, I pulled it all out and didn't have any of the colors I needed. So I had to use the Weeks. I'm happy I did, to be honest. I love the way the Trick or Treat is turning colors, and Squash is such a welcoming yellow. I can't wait to see how this turns out. I even found a source for the little ghost charm that will go on the finished piece

10 November 2010

Changes at UK Cross Stitcher

I stopped last night and picked up some of the new UK stitching magazines for the month. I got the new issue of Cross Stitch Collection, which I love! The Joan Elliott angel is just amazing. There are a couple other charts in there that are making me beg for more stitching time.

I had to decide between Cross Stitch Crazy and UK Cross Stitcher. I've been buying Crazy for 10 years, and I love it, but Cross Stitcher changed their format this month (it seems like they just changed it a few months ago besides), and so I decided to go the Cross Stitcher route this trip and get Crazy the next time I'm at the bookstore.

I was hopeful for Cross Stitcher. The cover was very retro; red and white with 50s-style writing. The back shows a pillow with a Jack Russell on it. And they sealed the deal with a Margaret Sherry Christmas stocking. LOVE LOVE LOVE. There were some pretty ornaments on the cover, a couple nice ones in the back.

But, reading the magazine . . . uggh. They are changing the format, it feels like, to show you how to use the designs in your home and how to embellish stuff you buy at the store into personalized gifts. And, in doing so, they seem to have lost the very essence of what I love about British magazines.

I started buying UK magazines because they were "chatty." American magazines present the designs, present a few letters with a picture or two, rarely with the stitchers' faces, have ads. British magazines have always felt like a stitching retreat to me: jovial people show off their stitching, they tell the story of how they made it, there's always something you're dying to stitch, it's fun, it's a gathering of people who genuinely ENJOY stitching.

Well, this new format feels so cold and "designer-y", it's like the stitchers left the table. I don't think you can fill a year of a magazine teaching people how to embellish packets of seeds. Maybe it's the fact that I can find (and have been finding) similar designs for free all year. And the finishing techniques are not radically different than the ones that they have always had. Wouldn't it be better to leave the format alone (if you're Number 1, you're doing something right), and maybe, once every few months, have a very special issue focused on finishing? Am I far off in this?

They do have a nice freebie kit this month. It's gingham hearts to stitch and stuff. Next month's freebie, if it makes it to the US, is a Scandanavian dove garland. But I have a bad feeling about the future of my buying the magazine because I looked at the "next month" page, a guilty pleasure, but one I love like I love cake, and it left me very flat. In contrast, when I opened that page in Cross Stitch Collection, it was like the heavens opened up and angels sang in a beam of light (Collection does that to me quite regularly, hopefully I'm not the only one who gets a bit excited at that page).

The biggest thing though, that let me know we have a problem is that I opened the December US Cross Stitcher, and want to stitch basically everything in there. There was a time where I disliked US Cross Stitcher and wouldn't have stitched a single thing, but it says worlds about how far they've come that I found more to stitch in that very simple magazine than in this one.

I hope this post doesn't come across as overly negative. I do appreciate that there are other segments of stitchers than I. And that I am a bit cranky and set in my ways. I am willing to give this a few more issues to see how the dust settles.
Perhaps I'm a bit jaded due to stitching smaller designs this year, and I'm willing to see how it falls out. But I'm not sure, given how much some of the other magazines have improved, that I can keep it up if it's not grabbing my attention.

Anyone else bought this and have thoughts?

06 November 2010

On an frosty fall day . . .

warmth is a plate of blueberry granola french toast from my favorite deli, eaten with a dear friend to celebrate my birthday, luxury is six new-to-me paperback books and a print of The Velveteen Rabbit from the white elephant sale at my church, comfort is a cozy sweatshirt, a size or two too big, but well-loved, and luck is finding out I am not scheduled to work the evening of the town Christmas parade, so I can enjoy the festivities.

Life is good today in Crazyville . . .

05 November 2010

Return to Sleepy Hollow

After it took so long to do the center section of Sleepy Hollow (two and half years), I wasn't in a hurry to start the side sections, but, last week, while I was on vacation, I decided to start one of them. I picked the Van Tassel's farm side, and I am amazed at how quickly it is stitching up. This is 3 days' progress at most--I stopped working on it Saturday, and just picked it up last night after finishing Halloween Costume--but it is FLYING along.

This is the cheeriest panel of the three, and the large runs of color aren't quite as large as they are on the other two. I do see, however, that I am going to have to do something to the porch jack o' lanterns so that it's obvious they're carved. And I'm a bit worried about how the roof will look since I couldn't match the London fog floss exactly. What I will have to do is work the new skeins in, so that it looks like the difference in color is just part of the effect. I think it will look OK, but I just have to be a bit less trusting of the chart in the future. It said this just needed one skein, and it's obvious to me that it needs more than that. I didn't know I was an extravagant stitcher, but I don't want to run out.

I'm starting to think about Christmas stitching now. I have a friend who is putting up her tree for the first time in a long time this year. I'd like to stitch her an ornament to celebrate the occasion. And I really want to do a freebie from Sanman, Candy Cane seeds, to give to the families to hang on their trees this year. I'd like to have them done in time to give them on the day we go to get the Christmas tree, in early December. So, need to get to stitching. ANNNNDDDD, there is the still the matter of the bazillion ornaments I have stitched and not finished this year, that need finished. Hmmm, what's a girl to do . . . .

03 November 2010

Halloween Costume progress

Here is my progress on Halloween Costume. Top Gun was on last night on AMC and so I got quite a bit done. I am stitching it with the requested Weeks threads and trying to use them to show dimensionality. I don't know if it's evident or if I'm just making things difficult for myself. Oh well . . .

This is what it will look like when it's finished. Can you understand why I find this irresistable?

02 November 2010

Another finish

I completed All Hallows Evening 2010 today. Very fun and I'm glad I got it finished. I liked it as soon as I saw it.

I am working on Halloween Costume right now. Will try to find a picture of the finish as soon as I can. All those old BOAF freebies are HARD TO FIND. I even found the pretty blue hand-dyed fabric from Dovestitch that I wanted to put it on. Yay for me! This is stitching up fairly quickly, so I may have a finish to show soon.

Halloween has come and gone . . .

Thank you all for visiting my blog and for participating on Sunday's SAL. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed myself. I am slowly relearning what it means to have free time--for over a year, I might have had free time, but it wasn't really free time to relax. There was always wedding stuff swirling around in my head. It was so nice to sit with a glass of iced tea this weekend and stitch, guiltlessly. I could get used to this. I even did a load of laundry, just because!

I do think I am going to turn the SAL into a weekend thing next year. I've started a tradition that I don't work Halloween. It started because I have a major phobia of driving when children are out, but I really want to enjoy the day. So next year, it would be a three day weekend for me. Woo hoo. But I know that others don't do this, so it seems like a weekend long SAL would work out better, and maybe let people see some progress that a day won't give them. I'm working that out.

I have big plans for Halloween next year. I realized our porch is not well-lit, so next year, I am budgeting to rim the yard with jack o lanterns and cute signs. It's going to be a large crafting endeavor, but I'm willing to scale back in other areas. Of course, that's going to require better candy--you can't have a billboard bigger than the store, LOL, but we will work on it. This will happen!

I'm finishing up All Hallows Evening today. I'm still trying to figure out how to finish it--it's too big for an ornament on 28 count. I can't find fabric I like to make it a stand up. Maybe a box? I don't know. I'll have to think about this. I will post a photo when I'm done.

I hope everyone has plenty of good left-over Halloween candy to tide them over. We are enjoying Kit-kats and Reese's today. Yummy!

31 October 2010

9PM update

I missed out on the 6PM update because we were inundated with various and sundry characters at that time. We had a fantastic assortment this year. Along with the fairies and football players, we had Harry Potter (or maybe he was Ron, he did have red hair and no scar?), a monarch butterfly, a really fun circus performer, a ladybug, and a 6ft tall Teletubby. I would love to know why he chose to be a Teletubby, but I just laughed. And I'm happy it was just cold, not rainy and not snowy. It's funny to think it was in the 70s last week when we were leaving North Carolina and it snowed tonight in South Central New York. Summer is gone . . .

I just finished dessert--so good. Left-Brain shared his pudding with the dog--he asked me how I knew he was giving it to him. I told him he kept saying, "Pudding, it's just pudding." And Beazer's breath smelled suspiciously of pumpkin. I may buy a few boxes of this mix and keep them around--it's really good.

I did stitch a little while waiting for children. I won't be able to finish this before the end of the evening, but I'll try. I am enjoying the stitching. I actually wish I'd been able to stitch all my planned projects today. It seemed do-able the other day, but at least I have the stuff here to work on them now. I am happy I finished a project today and am well on my way with another one. All in all, it has been a great Halloween!

3PM Update

With a slight delay due to my having to make pudding. Yummy pumpkin spice pudding with French Vanilla whipped cream. Seriously, if I don't stop eating like this, I will gain the weight back I lost on our trip.

This is my progress on AuryTM's All Hallows Evening 2010. This is a fun stitch so far. I am doing it on another Silkweaver Solo. I thought I would go a little more fun on this fabric, and lean a little bit more to the magical side of the holiday. I wish this fabric were sparkly, but maybe I wouldn't have liked it so much. It's stitched with the called-for DMC. Hopefully, I can get this done by the end of the night.

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