29 December 2011

The Between week

It's that week between the holidays here in Crazyville. Of course, it's that week where you are too, LOL. This is probably my favorite time of the holiday season, when the hustle and the bustle and the stress of the season is done, and it's time to relax . . . and try to figure out how to put the gifts away. There is always less traffic to fight this week, making it almost a pleasure to go to work.

I didn't feel too well yesterday, so came home and drooped, while Left-brain made dinner. I think I'm going to buy him steaks to make up for having to take care of me, like he has been the last few weeks. It's been really hard for me to deal with not being the Superwoman I pride myself on being, but there is a reason, and, when I get stressed out over the deal, he tells me to cut it out, I'm allowed to be a little weak. (This was after I got sick the other night, first time in our entire relationship he's ever seen me bolt to the bathroom, then started cursing because I was mad at myself over it). I perked up to pull out the ornament I've been working on and did some stitching on that. It shames me to think I've been working on one ornament, and not one that involves shading or anything particularly difficult, for 3 weeks. It's just large and involves overdyeds, so I KNOW why it's taking so long, but . . . sheesh. How on earth will I get 72 ornaments done this year, if I can't get 1 done quicker than this? I'm slowing down in my early middle age. I'm going to try to get it finished over the weekend, because, seriously, I'm over it. I want to move on to other new projects. I am going to my LNS tomorrow, so maybe that will inspire me to get a move on.

It is Left-brain's birthday on Saturday. I'm not quite sure if it's going to be his usual party with family, or a quiet time like last year, when it was just him and I for New Years, then we had a party with the family another day. We also are hosting dinner for my family on New Years Day, traditional Pennsylvania Dutch fare of pork roast and sauerkraut, eaten to ensure money in the new year. I did this for the first time last year and it turned out great, so we're trying again. This year, though, Left-brain has to help with seasoning, because my sense of taste is off, and things are much saltier to me than they are for other people. But I'm going to try--at least I can't boff up the sauerkraut, LOL.

27 December 2011

Starting to wrap up the year.

I hope everyone had a peaceful and happy Christmas. I know we were busy in a festive way all weekend, even up through yesterday. Our holidays were nice here in Crazyville--good food to eat, time spent with family, lovely things to look at on our tree, wonderful gifts.

DH surprised me with a charm bracelet. He picked out 6 gorgeous charms for me, including a Dallas star, LOL. And somehow, in our little corner of the world, he found socks with Schipperkes on them! If you own a Schipperke, you understand that finding ANYTHING with their sweet little faces on it, it's a treasure--these are not one of your better known breeds, particularly in this neck of the woods. He also bought me a stepstool, because I hate having to ask him to get things down off the upper shelves in the kitchen for me. I was much pleased! Mom gave me a $50 gift card to 123stitch. I'm going to save that for something I REALLY want. When I REALLY need a treat for myself, but it's nice having it!

I thought today would be a good day to do the official list of finishes since I'm pretty sure I won't be finishing anything else this week. I've got 9 hours of overtime to work before Saturday, and, well . . .


3 December--Hope-Dragon Dreams--2011 JCS Ornament Issue
30 October--Halloween Silhouette-2008--Raise the Roof
29 October--Bringing Home the Tree-LHN
26 October--Winter Glitter--Sanman Originals
16 October--Do You See What I See--TGOS 2007 issue
14 October--Meet Me Under the Mistletoe-TGOS 2009 issue
27 September--Frank n Stitches--Mosey n Me.
2 September--Beware of the Cat--Helga Mandl
2 September--French CountryOrnaments II-JBW
28 August-Favorite Pets--Simply Cross Stitch magazine
15 August--Brave Hearts--Little House Needleworks
4 July--The First Day--Plum Street Samplers--JCS ornament
3 July--Bear Hug--Pollyanna Pickering
27 June--You Are So Bootiful-Designs by Lisa
5 June 2011-4 Seasons Fatties-Sanman Originals
29 May--Flags and Friends--Bent Creek
15 May--Gingerbread Village--Little House Needleworks
27 April--Chicken--Bent Creek?
16 April--Sugar Plum Fairy-Country Cottage Needleworks
12 April--Autumn Leaves-Prairie Schooler
29 March--Bunny freebie--???
22 March--Eden Was A Garden--Needle Maid Designs
9 March--Cardinals Winter--Little House Needleworks
26 February-Frost is on the Pumpkin--Cricket Collection
18 February--Official Snow Guide-Lizzie Kate
9 February-Lookin' Like Fall--Plum Pudding
5 February--Patriotic Summer--Midsummer Night Designs
28 January--Hope Perches--Sampler Girl
27 January--Betsy--Sheepish Designs
16 January-A Nuisance of Cats--Yankee Stitcher
14 January-Santa's Bunnies-Vermillion Stitchery

I had 31 finishes this year. Well down from my usual average, but, then again, I had 3 UFO finishes and I spent a good portion of the year working on very large projects, some of which I am DETERMINED to finish in 2012, like Icy Dragon. I also spent most of November too exhausted to stitch, and my current ornament WIP is taking forever. All I can do is appreciate the ones I managed to finish, realize I'm not Super-woman, and try to do a little better last year.

I think I already said this, but I've decided I'm not doing the Crazy January Challenge in 2012. I managed to get a third of the way through my list of projects, but that means I added 10 new UFOs to the list, one of which I've misplaced already. So I think getting some more UFOs finished is the best idea for me. Not only am I convinced that finished projects take up less space than kitted up unfinished ones (plus there aren't all the envelopes sliding around, annoying me), but I think I get a better sense of what floss and fabric I own, since it isn't all in random envelopes. I am DETERMINED this is the year I control my stash, not the other way around. It's time I became an adult, darn it!

23 December 2011

Hang A Shining Star

I have plans to blog tomorrow, but, if the day gets away from me, I wanted to wish you and yours a holiday filled with light and love, hope and joy.

I have a little star ornament I hang on my stitchy tree every , with a silent prayer that the new year is a good one, that we are are at least as happy as we are that Christmas, and that our circle of loved ones does not diminish. Some years, that is not possible. We lost Lisa from Primitive Needle this year, as well as stitchers I knew from boards, Alphabet Michelle and the Lovely Lee, but the memories of their lives are still with us, as well as their beautiful stitching. As long as we remember people who have touched our lives, they are never really gone. I hope the memories of good times with family, even the ones that have left, are with you this holiday.

From Beazer, Left-brain, and I, Merry Christmas

16 December 2011

The Christmas Frog

I thought I was doing really well yesterday, had gotten a good bit of stitching done, then ended up frogging A LOT because I had miscounted. ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH. Frogging silk threads is a tragedy. I could have cried. I think I have it fixed now. Put it this way, I HOPE I have it fixed, I just can't stand to frog those beautiful Belle Soie threads any more.

I know it's been picture-free around here for the last few posts. I am not going to share the ornament that I am working on til I have it finished, and, by finished, I mean, made into an ornament, hanging on our tree. It's a challenge to myself. 2012 is the year I have to stop procrastinating, and this is an exercise in that. And I'm hoping the ornament is worth the wait.

I am determined to get the rest of my holiday prep done tomorrow. I am getting up at my normal time, and heading to the nearest largish city (the one with the Super-Walmart) to get the rest of my holiday shopping done before a lot of people have gotten up. I figure if I can get my food shopping and my gift shopping done early, I can be home, wrapping presents, by 10. Or baking. I know I am trying to keep it low-key, but what would Christmas be without a bit of baking and candy making? Left-brain requested chocolate chip--he loves that I use the milk chocolate chips, not the semi-sweet, and I've got oatmeal butterscotch to make, along with 7-layer cookies, the award-winning Rolo pretzels, and saltine cracker candy. I may even make shortbread, I don't know yet. Left-brain is putting up the tree for me tomorrow afternoon, and I'll decorate it while he's watching the Cowboys play.

And let me tell you about that Beazer! DH's 4 main sports loves are: the Dallas Cowboys, Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball (I converted him after Maryland got bad, it was that or we spend March Madness, not talking to each other), Dale Earnhardt Jr, and the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are a new thing, mainly since they got really good and we live smack-dab in Ravens territory. We don't have a lot of Ravens things, but I envision converting the bathroom in the mancave to a purple and black mecca to our local team. And we need ornaments for the tree. I bought Left-brain a tiny little Ravens football ornament and put it at the bottom of the bed, on the floor, tucked away. It was a gift from Beazer. Do you know what that dog did one day when I was not home, but Left-brain was? He found the ornament, picked it up, carried it around, and gave it to his father. Left-brain said I should do a better job of hiding presents. Dang dog.

15 December 2011

A little bit of stitching!

I got a li'l bit of stitching done last night. I stitch at work on my lunch break, but, by the time I get home, and pet the dog, and greet Left-brain, and get some dinner, I'm usually done for the night. Or at least that has been the pattern for most of the last 2 months. But that seems to be resolving itself nicely: last night, I managed to have a conversation with my mom to tell her we are NOT Atlanta Falcons fans in this house (somehow she thought we were, based on a conversation she had with Left-brain in regards to a Steelers game, but, um, no, we are Cowboys first, Ravens second, and some weeks, that gets reversed.), got the dogs' Christmas list--Robbie wants the tiny little bones from Tractor Supply, and had time to stitch a bit while we watched "The Virgin Diaries." It was a repeat of the premiere, and all I can say is, I hope our wedding pictures, at least the ones where we're kissing, didn't look that awkward.

I pulled Santa Pets out to work on. I've been ornament stitching this week, but needed a rest from one at a time. Since I have both Christmas weekend and New Year's weekends off, plus 3 days off in the week, I plan on working on that like crazy--perhaps Santa will have a face by 2012! Dare I dream and hope for a puppy? LOL.

14 December 2011

A Christmas memory

Growing up in the DC area, we were afforded easy access to events in the city. My favorite Christmas memory came the year I got to participate in one of the holiday events.

When I was 9, in 1985, a little 4th grader, I tried out for our school chorus. Only two 4th graders made it in, and that was the year we "toured", a big deal when you live in a small town. The other kid, Carl, and I were so excited, because we got to leave school early.

One of our concerts was at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, where we sang, I think, for the officer's wives. I remember a large group of ladies at the concert, all prettily-dressed, smiling, in a nicely-decorated room. They gave us candy to thank us for singing for them.

But that wasn't the best part.

We got to sing at the Pageant of Peace. I didn't realize then, how important it really was, but it was more the idea of riding a school bus down to the city, seeing each other after dark, outside! Now I realize what a great honor it was.

I remember my gloves didn't match. I lost one of each pair and forgot we had to clap during one of the songs, but I knew people would see, and I was so worried. I wore the mismatched pair anyway. It was cold that night.

Our chorus teacher/music teacher was someone who loved music, loved teaching us music. Had eclectic tastes. He liked to teach us sign language so we could sign along when we sang, and I still remember a lot of the signs he taught us. He was such an enthusiastic teacher, and he brought out my love of singing.

And he chose the best songs to teach us. They probably do a lot of this now, but how many elementary school kids were singing "Ode to Joy" in German in the 1980s, at least in Maryland public schools? I still know the words. He'd mix that with show tunes, with spirituals, with Christmas carols, and we'd sing with such jubilation.

Our program that year was pretty diverse: "Go Tell It on the Mountain," in call and response form (the clapping song) and "We Need a Little Christmas," among others. He had chosen "One Tin Soldier," from the movie, "The Legend of Billy Jack," as well. Looking back now, I realize that is not a very Christmassy song, but oh, you should have heard us sing it.

We stepped out on stage. It was so cold. Our voices rang in the frosty night air. My parents were in the audience. They had driven downtown to hear me sing. So I stuck my mismatched gloves up and clapped, I called and responded, I sang for them. And then it was time for "One Tin Soldier."

We sang with just a flute for accompaniment. It was a slower arrangement than the radio version. 60 voices and that lone flute rang out across the ellipse in the frosty air, singing our song of peace. Our little prayer. And it was beautiful. My father cried.

I've never heard that song played for Christmas again. Today I Facebooked my music teacher to thank him for that memory, to let him know I still remember, 26 years later, and what a profound musical moment that he created. Maybe it doesn't work as a carol. But I thought it did, and there is never a Christmas where I don't sing it, and I don't remember that beautiful, magical night. One day, I'll teach it to my child, hoping it has the same effect on him or her that it did on me.

Hoping you have a song this season that brings you joy and reminds you of a landmark event many Christmases ago.

13 December 2011

My Christmas gifts to myself

It seems to me I used to buy a lot more for myself. Or at least fancier things. Perhaps age has impacted my spending habits.

So far this year, I've treated myself to two things. One stitchy, one not. Or shall I say, the animals bought them for me? Yes, because who buys presents for themself, LOL.

The cats got together a few weeks ago and signed me up for the Sanman Merry Members board for 2012. I belonged in 2010, but couldn't keep up with the stitching and so opted not to do it for 2011. It seemed like a good thing for me to do this year, since my focus seems to be on smaller designs, so they got it for me. Such good cats, I knew carrying them around like babies when they tiny would work out in the end.

The dogs borrowed my check card yesterday and bought me Disney's Fantasia on DVD. I have wanted that for a year, but never got it. So, in a moment of rare Schipperke-Pit Bull cooperation, they asked me to let them get it for me. My good dogs. Beazer was of course mightily pleased with himself--he brought his beat-up toy bear for me to admire, jumped on the bed, and ensconced his funky self in the middle of the bed. Left-brain told him to get his foul-smelling butt off the bed, to which his response was to roll on the sheets, and look pathetic, as only an elderly pit bull can look. Methinks he is angling for a good Christmas gift, knowing I am going shopping this weekend, LOL.

And as for me, I spent 50 cents on myself at Goodwill the other day and found A Prairie Year by Prairie Schooler. I might have could waited til the friday night sale and gotten it for a quarter, but what fun would that be? I think that is the best stash I have gotten from Goodwill, and it was quite the find. It goes Buy-It-Now on Ebay for usually $10-$25, bidding a bit lower, but I wanted it, so 50 cents is a good deal. I also picked up some books, but I consider that just helping them make room, because I am clearing out some of my books that I don't want.

I think this will be a low-key Christmas at our house in general. I'll bake cookies this weekend, and we'll trim the tree, but no more 12 foot monstrosities like we've had in the past. The gifts I will give are not expensive, but will be given with love, and we are focusing on the blessings we have recieved this year and will continue to recieve in the next year, if we are lucky: a roof over our head to give us refuge, food in our pantry for sustenance, and someone to come home to who "gets" us. I wish that everyone in the world had at least the first two, and hopefully the third.

11 December 2011

Sorry for the lack of posting

It's just been that kind of week. Work was quite hectic this week, we were gone most of the day yesterday, looking for a Christmas tree and cutting it down. This is one of my favorite days of the Christmas season, because we get to spend a day with our family, and usually the weather is nice, and we get a nice family dinner. Any day that involves crab dip is AWESOME--I think I could make a meal with crab dip and bread and be one stunningly happy fat girl. But I was quite tired by the end of it, and was in bed by 8.

Hopefully this week goes a lot better.

07 December 2011

One on the tree, one needs cording

I was a busy little beaver last night. After I got home and perused the newest JCS, which was waiting for me, I got out my finishing stuff. I completed glueing my Dragon Dreams ornament together, quite the big deal, as this is the first ornament I have completed for myself in, gosh, a year? Maybe, I'm in a fog right now. Beazer and I went down and hung in on his tree, after we found a place that was not too close to the other "hope" ornaments I have.

Then I went back up and sewed together an old Pam Kellogg JCS ornie finish. I think it was the first thing I completed when I moved in with Left-brain, and is a blackwork (well, yellow work) kitty. I used some holly fabric that was gifted to me as part of a Secret Sister exchange by a stitcher who passed away at the beginning of 2011. It always seemed perfect for this ornament, and now Michelle is part of our Christmases future. It was getting too late by then to fiddle with the cording maker, so that is tonight's project, along with hopefully starting to finish another ornament. I've set myself the goal of finishing one ornament per evening this week, since, if I really pay attention, it's not that hard. LOL, working at this pace means they might not be perfect by anyone else's measurements when finished, but Beazer is not critical!

I will try to take some pictures tonight. I thought about it last night, but didn't feel like crawling behind the tree to turn on the lights to give the full effect, so didn't.

06 December 2011


Someone alerted me to the impending arrival of this design of Carriage House Samplings:


Chincoteague is the island that Assateague protects from the ocean. It's a lovely place, out of a picture postcard. I was first introduced to it reading the Misty books, by Marguerite Henry. If you have never read these books, with their gorgeous Wesley Dennis illustrations, PLEASE read them. If you have children, please have them read them. It's life-affirming.

I am going to whisper in the ears of the dogs and request this for my Christmas gift. I've been a good Mummy--plenty of tasty jummies, tummy rubs, and toys have been finding their way to the dogs this year. We've gone on walks, and bye-byes. What better way can they show their affection for me?

I hope she includes some ponies. Designs with wild ponies are hard to find. I think I own all but the HAED one that just came out.

I need more sneak peeks. I need to drool. I need to make room on the wall!

05 December 2011

Back to ornament stitching

Stitching on Santa last weekend knocked me into gear, so I've pulled out my 2011 JCS and gotten back to work on some ornaments. I actually finished the stitching on one over the weekend, Dragon Dreams' latest offering. I'm going to finish it into an ornament this evening, so hopefully, it will join the other ornaments either tonight, or tomorrow night. I'm kinda pleased to have another one done, since I now have 3 completed ornaments from this issue, which must be a record for me, LOL. If I get that done, I may do some finishing on a couple other ones that have been in dire need of it for a while now.

Wish me luck.

04 December 2011

An illuminating evening

This is not a cross stitch post, but it was a wonderfully moving event, and an experience that I wish to share.

Left-brain and I live about an hour from Sharpsburg, Maryland, where the battle of Antietam took place in September, 1862. It is the single bloodiest day in American history, with 23,110 men killed, injured or missing after the battle. Click here if you would like to read a little more about the battle.

For the past 23 years, to honor the memory of those who gave their lives on that day, as well as those who serve our country to preserve the freedom so dearly bought on that day, on the first Saturday of December, 23,110 luminaries, one for every casualty, are lit on the battlefield. I have been twice, and it is probably the strongest argument for "Peace on Earth" one could see.

I do not have pictures of the events of last night. I didn't bother to take my camera; it's a good camera, but not that good, and, to get a decent shot, it would have taken a tripod, long exposure, and a stopped car, and those are not things I have. There are some pictures here. They're much nicer than anything I could take anyway.

The event opened at 6PM, but we got there a half hour early. There were already probably a thousand cars lined up on the shoulder ahead of us at that time, and the line quickly grew after we got there. We didn't actually start moving til 7PM, and didn't get to the gates til 9PM. Yep, we sat there, no potties, just a bottle of water and a bag of Combos to tide us over. I brought a magazine, Left-brain fiddled with stuff in the truck.

It was quite a show in the line. The people in front of us kept getting out of their cars to check their headlights--don't know why, you aren't supposed to have your headlights on in the illumination. Other people kept trying to sneak in the line--one lady kept getting out of her car and confronting them. But, when you've been sitting in your car for 3 hours, and someone jumps, it's frustrating. Finally, the police started cruising the line, rooting out the "butters".

We got in the battlefield gate, handed over a small donation to thank the volunteers for their hard work, then drove into a surreal experience.

When you think of 23110 people, it's hard to picture. At least it is for me. A small college basketball arena, maybe? Half my college's football stadium, at least when I was there? This display goes a long way to show you the scale of loss. Each little light twinkling, telling its own story among the sea of thousands, just as each life follows its own design. Two groups of Civil War reenactors stood amidst the lights, paying silent tribute to their fallen predecessors. It started out a few rows of luminaries, some clusters here and there,but as the car path moved across the battlefield, it turned into a veritable sea of lights spread out across the gently rolling hills.

I appreciated the air of reverence that seemed to permeate the night. We weren't there to gawk and gape, but to ponder the fact that freedom is not free and the human price can be terrible. It almost felt like they were tombstones lined up, maybe the only monument the missing ever get, all equal and even, small soldiers lined up to say, "Remember us, we were here." Such a thing of beauty, living, breathing art, that came out of a terrible day.

If you live in Maryland, or can get to Maryland, please, at some point in your travels, put this as part of your holiday itinerary. It's worth the three hour wait, worth the cold, worth everything, for that one moment of stillness to see the value of one life.
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