29 December 2013

2013 finishes, more for my own information

  • 9 July-Kid Quotes-Dimensions Kit
  • 9 June--Addie's Tiny Tree--Cricket Collection
  • May 24th--Winter Moon-brown Dog Studios freebie
  • May 19th--Scottie Mitten--Cricket Collection
  • April--Summer freebie
  • 21 March--Mr. Blue Monster--JCS Halloween book--Mosey n Me.
  • 8 March--No Scaredy Cats--Waxing Moon
  • 18 February-dog reindeer freebie--Un Jour, Une grille
  • 17 February--December Square--Little Bitty Kitty Quilt Club-Val's Stuff
  • 7 January--Dragonlets of Christmas Day 11--Dragon Dreams
  • 1 January--Dragonlets of Christmas Day 10--Dragon Dreams

Been a long time

I think this is the longest I have gone without a post since I started this blog in 2006.

Fall was not easy here in Crazyville. We've been dealing with a lot of things. It started out with some manner of a cold about the last time I posted, and I ended up getting terribly sick. I spent Halloween and the three days after in bed, with the worst sore throat I've ever had, and terrible sinus congestion. It . . .maybe ruined is not the right word, severely messed up my birthday dinner, and that was the end of my willingness to tolerate this illness.  In case I haven't made it clear in the past, I loathe going to the doctor for any reason, so for me to break down and go to the Urgent Care, it was a big deal, but I was worried I had strep throat, or pneumonia, and so I went. It ended up being bronchitis, but it was a few more days that I was out of commission.

And then I realized it was getting closer to Christmas and I didn't have nearly enough money for gifts. So I have been working like a dog since then. Lots of hours at the theatre, and overtime as much as I can. I  managed to book 131 hours of work between the 8th of December and the 23rd. And that was just that paycheck. I've been doing this, full-tilt, since the beginning of last month. I am exhausted. I decided I will not put myself in this position next year. December flew by and there weren't the moments of bliss I was working so hard to enjoy. We had terrible weather, and, by the time we could get the Christmas tree, it was December 21st, and we had to go to a treelot and slog through mud . . . with a toddler. But we supported Mr. Trevor, the local farm market, with the purchase, so it was worth it.  We did decide, though, we are not buying live trees anymore, at least not large ones. We can buy roping to give the house the holiday smell, and will buy an artificial tree--Left-brain gets twitchy at the mess and I am tired of being at the mercy of the weather to go get the tree. And of being scheduled so tightly that it's hard to find the time to do the things that make the season fun.

Our Christmas was pretty nice. I was spoiled. Left-brain bought me two new charms for my charm bracelet, and some longjohns--our house is freezing, so I need them. My mom bought me a beautiful red purse; I've never had a colored purse before, but I wear so much black and white these days for work at the theatre, I wanted a pop of color. And my aunt surprised me with a large bottle of Penzey's vanilla. I found this stuff two years ago, and have been using it exclusively ever since for my baking, and you can really taste the difference, but I hoard it because I'm afraid to run out. Now I can bake!  Someone Small made us an ornament of her fingers shaped like snowmen. So cute. I know why my mom treasured the stuff we made in school. But I do wonder what she thinks when they do these projects in school. Can you imagine the conversations between the kids: "Do you know why they keep mashing our hands against these balls?"  "I don't know, but they do it ALL THE TIME and then we have to wash our hands." "Adults are crazy."  "You got that right?"

This is normally the time of year I assess my stitching year. I don't know what to say about 2013. I had more finishes than I listed, but I forget when I did them, so can't add them to my list. So I am not happy about my lack-a-daisical approach to that. But, in a way, even having one finish is a victory in a year where I was still acclimating to motherhood, transitioning to a new job, and really doing a lot of self-reflection and setting new goals for myself. I've got some progress photos to show on new projects, have made some plans for next year. I will try to post those between now and New Years, if the computer acts right.

As for what I'm going to do next year, first and foremost, I'm getting myself together. I know I say that every year, but it's now to the point where I NEED to make some manner of change and make it soon. All the weight I lost after the baby came back and I am angry at myself about that. I need to get my financial house in order, as well as my physical house. 2014 is the year I really want to blossom into a woman Someone Small can be proud of having for a mom, I feel like this is a time when I can reinvent who I am into who I want to be, but there is all this debris and self-doubt, both physical and mental, and I have to get rid of that.

28 October 2013

Can October be almost over?

Where did it go? I think I've spent the month hopped up on fun-size candy bars, and deep in my own thoughts, and barely noticed much else happening. I have been working on my master plan for 2014, both in stitching and in life, but it's just a start, so not much to report on on that front.

I did want to share this picture first. My hometown had its annual street festival about a month ago. Chilly day, but lots of fun. Someone small got her share of  'deedees'--dogs and cats--and took a nap. This CAN NOT be comfortable, but Mom didn't want to wake her up.
Earlier this month, we attended one of the fall church festivals and rummage sales. I know, I am supposed to be simplifying, but the prices were reasonable and it helps the church. I am always on the lookout for cool fall stuff.
This was the most expensive thing, and it was $5. It looks awesome with a candle in it.
This picture was 75 cents. I had grand plans to make it a backdrop for a tableau that is not happening. Maybe next year. I thought Leftbrain would be a little annoyed I brought home someone else's old painting, but he said his mom had this one at one point. No it's not hers, LOL, it just looks like it. And it's flat, so it can store easily for the rest of the year. 
And my other little goodies. I bought the frames for stitching. May keep the little pictures, though. They are pretty and older and someone enjoyed them. But then again, I don't have space for things like this.
And I was pretty pleased to find the patriotic stuff. That sheep is ca-yute!  I didn't decorate patriotic this year. Our garage is a mess, so it was not something I felt like tackling. Next year, though . . 
I will say, the little bowl, which I put out for fall because it had a blackbird on it, is gone already. I don't know where it went. But I suspect I will find it in a toybox.
We did get out and get pumpkins this year. Last year, Katie was too young to go to the pumpkin patch, and we were too broke, and then Hurricane Sandy happened and I rushed out right before it came through to get her a pumpkin, so it wasn't a fun thing. This year, it rained the few days before, so we didn't go tromping through the patch, but we took her to the farm market. She is giving her cousin a kiss--Katie is a kisser to beat all kissers, much to her father's chagrin--but she is a good picker too.
Friday night, I went to a reading and book signing by Wally Lamb, who wrote the first Oprah's Book Club book. Metro Crazyville is not the first place I would have a book reading, because we don't even have a real bookstore--you have to drive 20 miles to browse a Barnes & Noble, or even a good used bookstore--so it was more impressive that I could drive 5 miles and listen to the author of some of my favorite books. I appreciate that he came. I thanked him for writing The Hour I First Believed, which is one of my favorite books, even though it's not an easy read, nor is it a traditionally happy book.  I am looking forward to immersing myself in his newest book, We Are Water, but I have to finish The Monuments Men, another great book first.
And I have been stitching more. This is a freebie from Brooke's Books. I am not using the fancy materials the pattern calls for, but I just love the way it looks on PTP Flapper. I love that fabric anyway, but this looks great!
This is from a LA book, Fast & Festive: 50 Christmas Designs. I started it Easter 2011, and just found it the other day, so decided to finish it.
It's not the best picture of it, but it will be done by Thanksgiving, to be up for Christmas. I made it as a hand-towel. I will put it in our front bathroom. I know Leftbrain wouldn't use this to clean up a mess in the kitchen, but Someone Small likes it a lot and would probably take it and put it with the afore-mentioned bowl. And I can not deal with hunting it down.
I also started the Mary SAL from Plum Street Samplers.  It's a nice fast stitch, and I think it will be pretty when done.
So that's all that is going on right now in my world. I hope you are ready for Halloween if you celebrate it. I have a cool project I am hoping to at least start on that day. Hopefully, I will have some progress photos on that, but I am not guaranteeing. Otherwise, eat a few funsize Snickers, and enjoy the day!

16 October 2013

Cancer . . .

It's out in the stitching blogger community that Pumpkin, whose real name was Cathey, lost her valiant battle with cancer last week. It comes as a great shock to me and a great loss. Cathey was one of the first people to follow my blog, and I loved seeing her avatar on my "Recent Visitors" gadget. That doxie with the wagging tail . . . it made me happy. She was a nice lady. It hurts me that she's not here anymore, even though we were only connected through our blogs. I hurt for her son, and her husband. It's not fair he will not have his mom see him graduate high school, or dance at his wedding. As a mom, that hurts me, that terrifies me, and part of me thinks, why her? See, I have two high school friends who are also fighting this battle. One I have known since I was 4, who I used to sit in the back of our French IV class and goof off because we were both brilliant in French and didn't need to spend a lot of time reading about people in Paris wanting American jeans, and one I used to play soccer with and who I palled around in Materials Science class with; she used to call our teacher a monkey, I don't know why, but she did. We were all very close in my high school; it was a small town, and everyone knew everyone from childhood. Chelsea is 37, with 2 small children, and she is fighting her second round, Joey is 34. Young women with little kids who aren't done living, and they are fighting this . . . bullshit, hateful disease. My gramma fought it too, so did my MIL, but this isn't right. It's not fair. And I realize I am way too old to be still under the impression that life is fair, but it kills me that my friends worry how their husbands will care for their kids if they don't get rid of this cancer. No mom should have to worry about that. No dad should ever have to deal with it. And I'm angry because they couldn't save Cathey, and what if they can't save Chelsea, or Joey? Maybe it's not right that I say this. I'm probably breaching etiquette, but it hurts. Losing one good person makes the world a sadder place. And I wish Cathey would be the last mom we ever lose. RIP, Pumpkin, dear Cathey. Your family, especially Junior and your husband, are in my prayers. I hope that the wonderful memories of you help them get through this time, and I hope they know how many lives you touched and made better. Pat Brie for me. I know she's missed you. Farewell.

30 September 2013

A couple of WIPs

My computer appears to be working better than expected. Yay! These are the two projects I have been focusing on for the past week. I am almost done page 3 of the photo-to-chart of our hands, and probably 2/3 finished with the Dames of the Needle piece
I know the Dames of the Needle piece is not the way that it was pictured in the magazine. I found this beautiful Faded Berries floss in my stash and it felt "witchy" to me--it screamed of a faded, dusty skirt, but in a good way. I didn't know if it would work so well on the brightness of the orange, but it works in a very odd way. It is just a lot of tedious stitching and counting. But it's going to be cool. Don't know how I'll finish it yet, but I have time for that. The hand picture was one I'd put back down for a while, but I picked up. I'm trying to figure out if I want to keep going across the top or drop down to the third row and work my way over when I'm done this page. I've finished my Ornament exchange ornament for this year, but haven't done the finishing part. I think that may be a project for next week, but I've also got to organize this office and start making some hard decisions about getting rid of things. I am starting to realize things should either function well or give me pleasure. My items are really not giving me pleasure, not when I have to step over them to get what I need or they slide around. I was sitting here the other day under a towering pile of boxes, wondering if they were going to fall on me, and I'm tired of that. So, things are gonna start getting gone. There is a whole mess of boxes with stuff I don't use in them in the garage. I can't get to them, but the lack of access isn't causing me hardship, so I guess I don't need them, and they can go. At least this is what I tell myself. I may not be able to let them go when it comes to it.

29 September 2013

Technical difficulties

For some reason the computer that I use for most of my posting does not seem to like Blogger anymore, as it just attempts to load and load and load and never actually loads. So that is my problem and has been for a long time. And I think I need a new personal PC, but I have been dumping most of my available funds into bills and the house and computer money just isn't there. But it's all good . . . as long as I keep my part-time job, I can post here, if I remember to bring my camera. I have more and more stitching time lately. I started about 4 projects since the beginning of August. One is Left-brain's Christmas train, I am toying with adding beads to it to fancy it up some. I finished Someone Small's Halloween ornament and found fabric to back it and the one from last year. I also started Dames of the Needle's design from the Halloween special. I am stitching it with Victorian Sampler Threads in Faded Berries on fabric I dyed years ago, and it's turning out great. Hopefully, I can post pictures of them soon. Robbie came home to me yesterday. I held his little box and cried. I miss my boy. He will go on our dresser with his older sister and Shocka. We are going to get little plaques to put on their boxes at some point, but right now, we're just not moving the boxes, so we keep everyone straight. Left-brain wants to spread Shocka at the cottage, but he hasn't mustered up the strength to do it, and I promised the little ones that I'd never leave them again, and I just can't leave them at the cottage, not even now. We have talked about getting another dog for me, and have decided, when Shocka leaves us, which I do not want to happen for a long time, we'll get another Schipperke. Things will start looking up soon, I know.

15 September 2013

Season of change

I know I have been away from blogging all summer. I didn't intend to be. I had more time to blog, but I chose to spend a lot of it with Kaydence. It has been a sweet season with her, watching her change and her personality develop. She is hopping now; her teacher says an almost 14 month old is not supposed to do that, but mine is doing it. I am grateful for the time I have had with her. Grateful for the sweetness of having life perfect for a month or so. But seasons change . . . Last Friday, my mom called me, just as my theatre shift was ending. With bad news. She has had custody of my Robbie since I moved in with Left-brain. It wasn't the intention to leave him with her forever, but that was how it turned out; Robbie would not have gotten along with Beazer and would have probably been killed, and he loved my mom, so she took him. I have been upset about this since it happened, but it was what it had to be. Anyway, he wasn't acting right, so she took him the vet, and the blood tests they did said he most likely either had a Stage 5 lymphoma or leukemia. They had to wait til the pathologist officially gave the results. It was devastating, maybe because he had been so well, just older. I sat with him on Saturday, cuddling and loving him, I told him if he'd just stick it out, I'd bring him home with me. He licked me and loved me, and I was hopeful maybe that the wait from the pathologist would mean he was OK, that it was something bad, but treatable. And it wasn't so. Monday evening, I sat and held him while he left. It was at sunset. I hated every second of it, but I did it for him, so he wouldn't be scared, so for once, he would be the one leaving, not me. I tell myself he died with someone loving him, and someone crying as he left, and there are dogs who are not given that, and there weren't options otherwise, but there are moments where it hits me that my dog is gone. And I feel such guilt about what I didn't do. Yesterday, Katie and I went to Hobby Lobby and were looking at the ornaments, and it struck me that I have to purchase him a memorial ornament for the Christmas tree, and I had to make myself get control, because I didn't want to have to be in that position. Not this soon. Not with him. And I hated it. And work is not going as well as I had wanted. I won't go into detail, but it's not how I wanted to be. And I am facing having to re-evaluate this situation. And I don't like it.

19 July 2013

The great freebie roundup 2013

About a week ago, I got sick and tired of seeing stacks of paper--my printed freebie charts--all over the house. There were a lot in the office, and I run a fan in there to keep it cool, since it's a small room, and I have all my computer equipment in there and it gets hot in there by early afternoon. When the fan started blowing, the papers would rustle, and . . . in case I have never shared this before, one of my personality quirks (along with not walking on grates because I think they'll collapse and give me a compound fracture) is that I can not stand the sound of rustling paper. It creeps me out. And I have enough hoarder tendancies that I have lots of paper. Now you know why I call this place Crazyville . . .

Anyway, I wanted to stitch Left-brain the Sanman Merry Members Christmas train for Christmas. He likes trains, he likes Santa, we don't have the space or money to buy a real train for under the tree, and so I thought this would work. I collected the parts . . . and true to how I roll, stuck them all over the house. Because that makes sense in my brain. And then reprinted parts of the train.  And couldn't find the engine and car 1. I did ask Sandy if I could have the charts again. She sent them to me. Which I am publicly going to thank her for, because she is awesome. TRULY TRULY AWESOME. But then I got to thinking about why in the H*LL I continue to live in this slightly modified chaos. And I decided I needed to really make an effort and organize these freebies, so that I stop doing this. Because it's annoying.

So I went through my freebies. I pulled the binders out I had, which were never really organized, and the boxes, which have been hidden all over the place like a squirrel's winter stash. To give Left-brain credit, he has stopped looking under the bed.  He doesn't know why I insist on storing things down there, says under the bed is not for storage; let it be known, Left-brain has never lived in a college dorm, but I have. And I stick cross stitch supplies and books under the bed. Because I like to keep them close.

 I set up a pretty simple system: one binder is all Sanmans, one is Halloween/fall, one is spring/spring holidays/rabbits, one is animals, one is summer/patriotic, one hearts, and one will be fantasy creatures and houses, along with primitives. The Sanman is done, as is the Halloween, hearts, and summer.  I still have to sort out the fantasy ones (I have a lot of dragon charts), and the animals. The basement looked terrible for a few days. I told Left-brain it was just temporary. While we would watch TV in the evenings, I have been sorting and putting into sheet protectors. The baby started picking up random sheets and handing them to me, I suspect to trade me for fishy crackers. LOL.  The room is starting to look better now.

I found a gnome chart for my cousin who collects gnomes. I will stitch that up for her for Christmas.

Along the way, I have figured, there are a lot of cat-related freebies. I think I have about a hundred, and that does not include the fall black cats--those went with Halloween. Dogs don't get represented in the freebie world like cats . . . wierd, hunh?

And that i have enough "be mine" freebies to do a tree in them. But I'm not doing that. Because I don't have time for it.

And I comparison-shopped sheet protectors. 100 at Target are a little over $8. 100 at Walmart, less than $7.50. And Walmart doesn't have any really cool school supplies that can be used for cross stitch this year. Hunh?

I am getting rid of any duplicate copies. Why keep them? It's just more paper to be making noise when the fan blows. And they take up space. And I want better for myself.

And it also reinforced my notion from two years ago that there is NO REASON to steal charts. There are so many freebies out there and available online that you don't have to violate someone's copyright. Like I've said before, I have such a wide range of stuff in these binders from very simple to very complex, by a lot of designers, it's not like I am suffering for choice. And while I do have to say, this isn't a collection (because that is what it is, really) that one amasses in a day or a week, it wasn't that hard to get.

By the way, I found all the pieces to my train. I'm going to look it over, see what I need, and hopefully get started soon. I'd like to finish a couple WIPs before starting something new, but I am not dumb, I realize I need to get started on it soon for Christmas. But this is a start. I've been sorting Katie's clothes and putting them away, will be getting rid of some books and clothes of mine. I will do better. And it starts with the freebies.

11 July 2013

Starts and stops and civil wars!

Thank you all for the lovely comments about Katie's party, and the wishes for her turning 1. It's hard to realize it's been a year, but I think the real adventure starts now! We're in the middle of either a "wonder week", reaction to her 12 month shots, or teething this week, or all three together. It's been . .  fun, to say the least.

I'm starting to be able to stitch more these days. When I'm not removing the Christine scissors from within the reach of tiny hands, or rescuing a bag of floss from her (or removing the paper band from her mouth), stitching is more relaxing.  I pulled out the WIP of our hands a few weeks ago, and finished a page and a half.
This photo doesn't do this justice. It's a beautiful picture. It takes me back to those first few weeks of her life. I really think about last summer as a magical time, us holed up in the house (since you can't use sunscreen on babies til they are 6 months old and some people freak about exposure to other people, I did change her diaper in a Walmart bathroom at 12 days old, surely that gave her some immunity, right?), just getting to know each other. I didn't have to share her with the world. And we spent time watching the Olympics, it was just a wonderful time to be with her. I've missed those days. I hope to have this picture done by the time she's two, which is doable if I can keep up this pace!

I also started a project I've had kitted up for a few years. One of the benefits of being broke, to be really honest, it's a blessing, is that I've been forced to stitch what I have and not aquire more stuff. Which is a good thing because, frankly, between all the large baby stuff, the stuff I already had, the books, baby clothes and tires we have, there isn't room for more. And I just love this little kitten by Pamela Kellogg.
I started him the night a wind event came through Central Maryland and took out a garage by my old commute, along with some trees. They said it wasn't a tornado. It looked pretty close to one by my calculations, but I'm not an expert.  This helped take my mind off the tornado warning and trying to make sure that I had the dog and baby close by, ready to run into our bathroom. Of course, now that I think about it, that bathroom is not safe--it has a glass shower stall, not the best place to duck and cover. I should revise this plan, right? Anyway, I like this little guy. My plan is to have him installed on a large stocking for myself. That was why I didn't leave a lot of room on the sides, but I may change my mind and pillow-ize him. He's adorable, from an old Cross-Stitcher from 1999, called "A Kitten For Christmas."

I also started this project a couple days ago. It was another kitted-up project from stash, by LHN. The name escapes me now, but it's a commemorative piece for the Civil War. Last week was the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, and I don't want the occasion to pass, unnoticed. We live less than an hour from the battlefield, and both Crazyville and the town that I grew up in had troop activity during the war. My hometown moreso than here, but that town was also closer to Washington and near several Potomac River crossings, and it was necessary to have troops there to head off an invasion, since the people of my hometown area were of Southern sympathy. The war defined a lot of the terms we used growing up. My home county is either upcounty or downcounty. No Northern or Southern (kind of ironic as the downcounty, Southern area were Union sympathizers, upcounty folks fought for Virginia).  My great-great-grandfather, though, was Union through and through, fighting for Pennsylvania and fighting at Gettysburg before going home to marry his beloved Fronie, mother of the Kate in whose honor Kaydence is named. Anyway, we chose not to even try to go up to Gettysburg this past weekend, because it was packed with people for the anniversary, but it didn't feel right to not celebrate it, not when my ancestor's military service caused him to leave the Mennonite church; they objected to him recieving a pension, and he told them they didn't do the fighting for him, they weren't going to tell him how to spend the money he earned for that service and became a Lutheran. So I found this and I started it. It's a big piece, but I think it will stitch pretty quick, and be a nice tribute to so many lives lost in battle.

I did finish something. It's a small Dimensions kit, in the Kid Quotes line. I've had it for at least 4 years, and just decided to do it. It comes with a little cardboard frame, I just have to have time to get it into the frame.
It's all backstitch. Nothing fancy, and I got it done in a day, but sometimes a quick reward, no big deal project is what you need to get your mojo working. And this did it for me.

So that's all I have for today. It's been a busy time around here lately, hopefully it will slow down! A bit, not too much, though!

05 July 2013

A year has passed, 12 months of fun

We celebrated Someone Small's birthday last weekend. A year ago, she looked like this, poor little scrap of person, all yellow and little. What a difference a year has made.
Beazer dressed up for his sister. He says, "Only fors today, and only because she is my sister." I have to say, he looks astonishingly good in hot pink.

She shared her smash cake with her big cousin. They are best buddies.  He is the same nephew who, when asked what he would teach the new baby, said, "I'm not teaching Baby H anything", but oh, how he's changed. He would have made an awesome big brother, but he's the youngest, so he gets to be the big cousin. Kaydence is so blessed.

She didn't go all out on her cake. She is very dainty, she just tasted icing.  And she got overwhelmed with the sticky and started flinging cake and icing. Left-brain was noticeably twitching, and ran her back to our bathroom for a hose-off.

The pretty guest cake (cause who wants to eat a cake after little hands have gone to town?). I was very happy with it. It was made by a local bakery, who I can highly recommend for anyone in this area.They had a small picture to work with to do the puppy, but still did a good job. And it tasted so good--almond cake with cannoli cream filling!  They were a little expensive, but it made me feel like a rich woman to be able to provide this lovely cake.

Beazer got some, too. It's some tradition in Left-brain's family. Poor old guy.  Though he was a bit livelier for a few hours.

This was for her pinata. Because it's not a children's party if at least one of the activities doesn't put someone at serious risk of an ER trip.

She helped her big cousin take a whack. 

And proudly showed off the spoils. 

And then engaged in a chase around the yard with her aunt. That flash of orange in her left hand? It's a gumball. She picked it up and would not put it down.  Even in the chase. Even when she fell. She loved it. She was COMMITTED to it.

Needless to say, we all took a good long nap on Sunday. Our AC broke during the party, but we didn't notice til Sunday. Now that is a party! Left-brain fixed it, by calling on his vast circle of friends in "the trades". And believe me, that makes me happy.

It's been a year that has not been the easiest for our little family. Financially, we've had some really hard blows, that have turned into lessons for good. I always thought I didn't need to shop at thrift stores or the lower price grocery stores, and now I see I was just throwing money away; the stuff is just as good and less expensive. I learned about the library; we go there all the time now and I love it. I've learned to set pride aside, set my wants aside, and learn what is really important. And I've learned, much to my benefit, to be grateful for the kindness people show. I am so lucky that so many people care about my daughter, whether it was a small gift of socks or a book for her, or gift cards that came in handy when funds were tight, or even asking me about her and indulging a proud mama for a second. I hope to teach her to care about others and share when she can, because others cared about her. Our little party was my chance to, in a small way, thank the ones closest to us for what they gave us--love and help--but it's not the end of my appreciation. Or Kaydence's.

18 June 2013

Still here, still trying

I haven't been around much. We've been getting ready for Someone Small's first birthday, which is in a week and a half. Left brain rehabbed our deck in preparation for the festivities--the deck on the house is the original one and needed a lot of repairs. It had been damaged in Hurricane Irene when a branch came down on it, and it wasn't baby-proofed. He repaired it and expanded and added a place to put a little swing for Someone Small. We looked at new furniture, but decided that we're not spending more on the couch for outside than he spent on the couch for the inside and we'll put off that purchase.

And then the above picture happened. Thursday morning, terrible storms rolled through Crazyville. Left-brain was home, because they'd forecasted a derecho, and we didn't want to have the baby in daycare and both be stuck down-county and unable to get home to get her. He said it just turned black and descended. Quarter-sized hail, terrible winds, and this fell. It missed the deck, thank Goodness, but took out our back fence, and our bird-feeder (it's still standing, obviously, but it was sunk in the ground with concrete, and that's cracked and two of the birdfeeders had to be replaced). Left-brain said he stood, watching the cars out the front window, worried sick. None of them got damaged, surprisingly, blessedly; our friends can't say the same, their brand-new minivan (hadn't even made a payment) has so many dents in it, it's not fixable and will probably be totalled. Our roof is apparently badly damaged, and needs replaced, since there are holes in the shingles, the flashing around our skylights is toast, and there are holes in the gutter guards and screens.  There are also some big trees that need to be removed because one of these days, we're not going to be so lucky with them missing the house. And that would suck.  My tomato plants are pretty badly battered, but we'll just have to take a wait and see with them if they recover. It figures, I was proud of them and they were surviving.

The adjuster is supposed to be out looking at it today.   Left-brain did finally say we'd put in a real garden next year at the side of the house. It's going to be a project to rabbit-proof it, but if the fence needs replaced, we might as well try to fence it in. All this is not what we need right now, not when I start working from home on Friday, and with the party next week, but it is what it is. We can't have that fence down, can't have holes in the roof.
I did start a new project, a design from an old magazine, called "A Kitten for Christmas," by Pamela Kellogg. I plan on mounting it on a stocking for myself, but that may change. It's a lot of color changes, but I'm finding it moves quickly.

So that's what's up in Crazyville. After the birthday, I'm hopeful things will slow down for the summer. Fat chance, right?

06 June 2013

My hazel thumb

Growing up, my parents grew daffodils. Exclusively, daffodils. Thousands of daffodils. They grew so many, the neighbors have started going in their yard, digging up the bulbs and stealing them. I am not kidding you. Who does that?

My grandmother grew peonies. We apparently bought them for her as Mother's Day gifts over the years, and they line the walkway to her house. She was fiercely protective of them. No one got a cutting from them. I asked my mom if I could have a cutting off one for my house. She gave me a dirty look and said no. But they were a gift from me!

When I got disposable income, I bought tulips for the house. And lavendar. Apparently tulips are not easy to grow, but there are lots out in front of my gramma's house. Not in the organized manner I thought to put them in. One year I had this wild idea to do the colors of the Maryland flag, in rows. Gramma planted them while I was at work, mixing in the yellow and white and red and deep purple/black with fuschia ones. Oh, yeah, looks good. I sought solice in my tulip bulbs after she died--the night after I came home from the funeral, I planted some. It was cold and probably confusing to see me outside in the twilight, digging holes and sticking bulbs down, but my family let me alone. I think I radiated the need to make something beautiful after seeing my family destroyed in an instant. They're still there, they still grow, they've been thinned by the squirrels, but are still there.

At our house, I planted more tulips (I am ashamed to say I didn't plant any this fall), and some gladiola bulbs from Walmart, and more lavendar, along with crocuses. I also tried planting things in pots. I am not a pot gardener, apparently--is that a good or bad thing, I get so confused--because my potted plants have not done so well. The gladiola are OK, the tulips are fine, the crocus grows, the lavendar died. I told Left-brain we have poor soil. Since the house was a rental house before he bought it, no one really took care of the yard and nurtured the soil, and all it grows well is rocks. If we are stuck here, (one of these days, I'll post an explanation about that) that will become a project.

But the one thing I want to grow is food. Our yard is not set up to have a veggie garden. The back yard is shaded and is the domain of Beazer. And rocky. Plus, we have a rabbit warren in the bushes along side the fence and I didn't want to do anything that would encourage them to come into the "Backyard of no Return" (it pains me to admit my dog does and has been know to kill small animals, but, I mean, he's a dog, and a terrier, it is his mission in life). And our front yard is the bunny superhighway. I attempted to plant tomatoes in the ground, and what the bunny didn't eat, just up and died. What I planted in the topsy turvy, got sheared off at bunny-level. At the end of the season, Left brain asked me what I wanted to do with the Topsy Turvy.  I told him to chuck the dirt in the swamp and toss the Topsy Turvy, what a waste. 

But I crave a garden. When we look at houses, I look for room for a garden. It's not about a great kitchen for me, it's about the garden!  Left-brain looks at me funny, knowing I am not one to be out there with a shovel, digging up dirt, but he listens and pays attention. All I want in a house is a front porch (or a back one), enough bedrooms for a sewing room, and room for a garden. 

So I planted this year. And I realized that our stoop is perfect tomato climate. Sunny for most of the day, and, although our bunnies are brave, they are not coming up on the stoop. And so I have 15 tomato plants, a pepper plant, and an herb garden in pots up there. Initially, I felt like a goober for planting stuff out front--for some reason, I picked up the notion the front yard is for pretty, the back is for everything else--but they're growing and, seriously, who cares? they've survived longer than the ones in prior years. I may get some salsa by the end of summer.  Or at least enough 'maters to serve with sliced mozzarella.

Good luck to us all with our planting.

26 May 2013

A prayer has been answered

One of the things I've been battling with over the past year is my career. Prior to becoming a mom, I was very pro-work. I draw a lot of my self-worth from my work performance, I do a lot of my socialization at work, and, let's be real, I like earning my own money and not having to answer to Left-brain for the money I spend. But my past choices made it so that I couldn't afford to work near the house, and so, since September, I've been getting up at 5:30, leaving the house by 6:30 to drop the baby off at daycare so I could get to my job at 8AM, then leaving my office at 5 or 5:30 to get home by 6:30 or 7. Unless I work my part-time job, and then it's 9 or 9:30.  And do it over again the next day. Not working was never an option, since I provide our health insurance, and taking a paycut to work closer was not an option (Necessity has now made me really awesome at understanding insurance lingo, asking the right questions, getting receipts and keeping track of outlay of money, one of the few blessings of this entire past year). But it's meant that Babygirl gets parented by her father for most of the week, and that cuts me, deep down. Not because he's not a good dad, my husband is an excellent father and he takes awesome care of her, but because I wanted to be able to be there for her. She crawled for her dad first, and I was jealous, I'll admit that. It's been hard to go from being the mom who totally was responsible for everything to handing her over to daycare that first day and letting someone else care for her to feeling like my only contribution to her is reading to her at 5AM because that's the only time I have to give her. So I have been praying, desperately, for something to happen to get us out of this situation. I'll be honest, I was thinking in terms of winning Powerball, but something better happened.

I've been given a chance to work my same job, but from home (OK, winning $650M on the Powerball would be better, but that ain't happened, so this is more realistic). I start at the end of June. I'm still in a bit of a daze, not sure how this happened, because it came so quick, but it's a tremendous blessing. Financially, my benefits are cheaper, and I won't have 500 miles' worth of gas to purchase a week, so that alone puts $100 more in my hand per paycheck. I won't have to haul the baby out in the snow in winter. She is still going to daycare, I was adamant with Left-brain about that, because that's not professional, but I got in a minor fender-bender in February on the way to work, and my fear is that I'll do that with the baby in the car one of these workdays. At least this way the risk is less. And I'll have more free time to invest in being a parent that I didn't have before, a win-win for me. AND, now that I have my sewing machine up, I can work on that during my lunch hour. I also wanted to be able to be more present in my community, and that's finally a possibility.

I made a promise to myself not to squander this gift I've been given. I am really starting to put things in their perspective on the whole anyway--work is no longer my life, its primary role in my life is that it gives me money to provide for my family, but it's not the be-all and end-all, because a job can be taken in a second--but this gives me a real second chance, and it comes at a time when I need and appreciate it. Hopefully, I can blog a bit more--I realized I have been sadly absent from this blog for most of the year, but then again, there are weeks when I feel sadly absent from my life in general, and that has got to change.

19 May 2013

Catching up

I wanted to thank you guys for wearing green on Friday. It means the world to me.  We were not able to release balloons. Someone Small, her father and I were on our trip to Assateague, a break I dearly needed. I didn't want to release balloons in case they fell back to earth in the park or out at sea. So we sat on the beach a little after dawn, and said a prayer for Logan, and we sang a little bit for him. And we told him we'd remember him and help his mama fight. It was a privilege to have him in our lives, even from afar. And I have learned that every day with my child is precious and a gift. I get it now.

The little trip itself was a pleasure. To look at the island now, at least the state park on the northern end, it's hard to see the damage from Sandy. There is a lot of sand piled up on the dune crossings and the dune fences are damaged, but really, that's not a big deal. The grass will grow back, the sand will go back down, the island will survive. The ponies were not around. I don't know if it's because spring seems to be on high delay here in Maryland and it's been so cold they hang out in the forests, or if the new rules the state put in place to discourage people from "ruining" them are helping. I don't know what it is with people, but they think just because they're small and pretty, these ponies are tame. I guess they never see the photos of the stallions fighting? Because I can't imagine any other reason you would put a small child on the back of a feral stallion bareback without a bridle. DUMB DUMB DUMB. Only now that will cost you $100, so people are maybe stepping back on their interaction, and not feeding them, so there isn't as much incentive to come through the campground. I know, I have pictures of them in our camp, but we don't pet them, and usually just move things out of their way. and we don't feed them. But we took leisurely walks, I told Someone Small the story of Misty of Chincoteague, how the story got made into a book, and how Mummy petted Stormy  when she was a young girl and Stormy was very old. When she's older, we'll read the books, but this was for introducing her to my favorite place.

I even brought a stitching project. I have finished 3 projects since the beginning of April. All are small, but that's fine. Left-brain and Someone Small went "downy ocean" on Mother's Day, so I was all by myself and started the Cricket Collection's Sophia's Scottie mitten freebie for her in my spare time. In case you're wondering, 11 months of up at 5:30AM has set my internal alarm so well, I couldn't sleep past it just because she was not there, so I used that time to stitch. I don't know if it's good to work on her second year Christmas ornament when I haven't done her First Christmas one, but I have plans to do that one for her, too, soon. I like this ornament, though. It's pretty and a pleasant stitching experience.

We came home on Friday, because some stuff went down at my office while I was gone.That was unpleasant, but when I got home, my 2014 BH&G calendar was waiting for me. It's a lot nicer than the last two years have been. I think I found 6 designs that, given time to stitch, I could do.  I am glad I am keeping it, because Kaydence got a hold of it and bent it for me.   As we say to her, "UH OH."  Oh well, it's a nice calendar. The December design is by Joan Elliott, the Halloween design is really cute, and there is a fall design of a farm I like. I may not be able to stitch them now, but all in good time. I'll try to post pictures, but, in the meantime, if you see it and like the whimsical, pick it up!

So that's all for now. Hopefully the next post will be a picture post. I'll try to do that in the next couple days, but I have a bunch of tomato plants and an herb garden to try to plant before they die.

14 May 2013

RIP Logan

I wrestle a lot with how much to post on here that is child-related, since I realize that not everyone cares to hear about other people's children, but I felt compelled to write this post today. If you don't think it's something you want to read, I get it. Come back next post. I have some exciting stuff to share!

Before I had Babygirl, I joined an online community so that I could meet other new moms, and maybe not feel so alone in being a parent. It has been a good experience, but, along with the joys we share as moms, we also have to deal with the hard stuff. Not all babies are born at 40 weeks, not all babies are healthy, not all babies live to be toddlers, and sometimes love isn't enough. I have been blessed beyond what I deserve to have a healthy child, and I realize how precious and wonderful a gift that is every day.

One of the children in the community was named Logan. He was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the number 1 genetic killer of children under the age of 2, in November. His mother created a bucket list for him, came up with a palliative care plan, and loved him. She wanted SMA to become one of the illnesses they test for, so that no parent has to deal with this. Our group rallied around them as best we could.  Logan wore green on his birthdays, so we started wearing green to show our support. When people found out how the medical bills were affecting the family, they set up a way to donate, and to buy green shirts, so that we could educate about SMA. I bought Babygirl one to wear, even with money being tight, I wanted to help the family. I knew, from knowing Cole through the 123 message board, that Logan wouldn't win this fight, but at least he fought valiantly.

He died on Saturday. When I found out, I cried. Because it's not fair. How cruel is a disease that attacks the smallest? How fair is it to give a mom enough time to fall in love with a baby, to dream dreams of their future, and then rob the baby and the family of that future? I know, if it were me in that place, I don't know how I'd pick myself up and live.  And am I selfish to take pleasure in my baby's milestones, when Logan will never get to run and play?  I've been grappling with this this week. 

Logan will be buried on Friday. As a memorial, as part of us standing up to SMA, we moms are going to dress our children up in green. Some will release green balloons--I'd love to, but it's not possible. So I'll dress her up in her Logan shirt, and I'll take her picture, and send it for a book that's being put together to show Tia, Logan's mom, just how much of a difference her beautiful boy made in the world. So I'm asking you, my readers, would you consider wearing green for Logan?  I know it's a lot to ask, and it's OK if you don't, but I wanted to ask.
 Logan's page

18 April 2013

Zooming through April

I thought I'd start this post with a picture Left-brain's cousin took of Someone Small and I on Easter. She is the same photographer who did our wedding pictures and she captures something really special with the baby and I, even in the simple moments.  Even though my hair is . . . interesting . . . I love this picture. I was zooming her around the backyard, since she couldn't look for Easter eggs with her big cousins. I may not take the best formal pictures, but these are the ones I will cherish.

Anyway . . . the saga of the sewing machine continues. We are on to winding bobbins now, which one of my co-workers at the theatre is supposed to help me with, but I may just suck it up and attempt to interpret the picture-directions on my own. I'm ready to start using the machine, and tired of waiting for other people's schedules. I am going to try to embellish a onesie on my own for the baby's birthday party, and I can't wait any longer.

I did find a new craft I would like to try. Mom and I went to one of those kids' consignment sales last weekend at the Ag Center in town--our version of a fairgrounds. I could go off on how strange it is that Metro Crazyville is a very rural place, at least for Maryland, and we have no county fair, but we have a fairground where they hold horse pulling and the 4-H fair, but that's another time. The sale itself was OK. We found some really pretty dresses for when she's 2 or so, and some clothes for daycare, since I have a constant running battle with them to get her things sent home (Mom says it's OK if they lose clothes that she buys her, since she enjoys buying things and she likes the idea of sending her to school in something pretty. I love it too, I just don't want her clothes jacked-up and lost. We don't bust our butts to pay for things to clothe the under-1 crowd in town).

But one of the vendors was selling sculpted hair bows.  This is not her work, but it's the same idea.
I realize I'm new to the kid-having set, but I've never seen anything like these before. I bought her three. Two with heart shapes, and one with a  set of cherries. The lady even fixed them for me so they'd grab Someone Small's hair--she did a thin line of hot glue along the alligator clip and let it dry. For the first time, my daughter wore a hair clip for more than 5 minutes. We told her she was pretty. She smiled.

But I got to thinking, they'd be pretty cool, embellishing a finish. I mean, from what I've seen, googling sculptured ribbon hair bow, you can pretty much make anything. How cute would this be in place of a bow on a ladybug-themed ornamant? Plus, lots of these sites have directions for making bows, and, really how different is hair flare from the bows we use to top no-sew cubes.  I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but the talent out there is impressive.

02 April 2013

What I did on my Spring Break

1. Got my sewing machine out of the box. It was a lot of box for not much sewing machine. But it's out of the box. I plugged it in and turned it on. And pressed on the pedal. It works like other sewing machines. Now to wind the bobbin. I'm doing this under the watchful eye of a seamstress to be sure it's done right. (The sad thing is, remember, I made a button-down shirt in college, with a pocket and a contrasting collar and cuffs that was a thing of beauty. And it was functional--I got an A in the class. This is not my first time at the rodeo. However, I look at that box, see that it has multiple quilting stitches available, and I want to run, screaming, from the room. Technology is wasted on me). But I know, once I figure it out, I'll be OK.  I already was telling myself I could make Babygirl an "I Spy" quilt. Or work on a couple artsy ideas I have in my little pea-brain.

2.  We went for Someone Small's 9 month pictures. She wasn't feeling her best at the start and had been sleepy all morning, but she perked up at the photo studio. Not at first--we had a minor meltdown in the middle of the first shots, but when I popped on the blue dress, she got happy:

Babygirl is 9 months old.

I do want to send a shout-out to the photo studio we went to. If you're in the Maryland suburbs, or know and love someone who needs some photos taken, they do a great job at the JC Penney's at Lakeforest Mall. We had the same photographer, Christina, who did her 6 month pictures, and Katie really responds well to her. And their prices are reasonable. These are pretty special times, and I like that they do such a great job.

And her dress is gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Crazyville has a Belk (I always laugh at the idea that they say they are Southern and you could pretty much jog to the Pennsylvania line, but there's a reason this is Crazyville). We saw these when she was 2 months old, and thought it would be nice to get one for her. The company is Petit Ami, and they do smocked dresses with hand-embroidery. Well, as a needleworker, I wanted something special for her, vintage-y, but not overly frou-frou. This company makes a nice baby dress. I don't know if the store carries their designs for older kids, but I'll be looking for more like this.

(And none of these places paid me, I'm just really pleased with how it turned out. Though, I won't lie here, if Petit Ami wants to hook us up with some clothes, we'll take them! Someone Small likes to look 'pret-ty')

I can't believe 9 months has gone so fast and that we've managed to survive it. When they handed her to me, when she was 20 hours old, after being in the NICU that first day, I was so scared I was going to really mess this up, since I'd never changed a diaper, never held anyone that new, never really had experience with little people, but she's been such a good baby.  And I am amazed every day at just how wonderful having this little person in my life is. She's a pretty cool kid!

27 March 2013

I wish I had known

prior to getting pregnant that, a few months after having a baby, your hair falls out. 

And not just like a few strands.

Gobs and gobs of hair.

Apparently we don't lose hair while pregnant like we do while not with child, in my opinion so that, while the hormones are regulating after birth, our personal summer of hot flashes can be made oh so worse with hair plastered to our face. And then it all starts coming out. I didn't believe it could happen to me. And then it did.

Left-brain was suitably grossed-out. Apparently, explaining that it's hormones doesn't work as well for hair as it did when I was sitting in the camper 10 days post-partum, crying because the book I was reading was really sad (an experience I NEVER hope to duplicate, I was wailing, y'all). Or else they should have covered it in the discharge speech--he understands baby blues, not red hair all over everywhere.

And now, all that hair is growing out, and looking horrible. I haven't had a haircut in 17 months--I didn't feel like explaining to the hairdresser that I couldn't get my hair dyed because the doctor said not to, and why have a pretty cut if it's half grey? But I have bangs at the side of my hairline--not in the middle, that's growing and flowing, my legit bangs are past my chin. I look awful. I have plans though--this is not staying this way, no, m'ams and messieurs.

I am going to pull out my sewing machine tomorrow. I ran up to Joann's to get sewing thread for it. Someone Small came with me--it was her first experience sitting in the shopping chart without being in her carseat. I put aside my germ fears, strapped her in, and we proceeded around the store. I often wonder how things look from her perspective and how she thinks about things--she looked at everything so hard, even the cashier.  She just stared at her, occasionally sucking on her pacifier like a little Maggie Simpson-girl. LOL.  I told the girl, "She's usually not like this." So my plan is to take it out, run the needle through an old onesie of hers that is too disreputable to wear anymore to get the oil off and try some finishing. This may be a slow process--bear with me.

23 March 2013

Photo fun . . . and a recipe.

Told you I finished something!  I have had this rolling around my UFO pile for the last two years. I am so happy it's finished. I've always really liked this design, and decided the Crazy January challenge 2011 was the perfect time to commit to it.  After the designer for Primitive Needle passed away so tragically that same year, I dedicated it to her--I still feel so awful about the way she was taken. But then life took over, and this, along with the rest of the Crazy January starts, fell along the wayside.   But now it's done, and really, when it comes down to it, this is a pretty good message for the way my life has been going lately--we just gotta keep going and hope for the best.

This is my problem child. This was kitted up by my LNS, and I don't have enough floss to finish it. I can pull the DMC from my stash, but the hand-dyed floss is another question. Even if I were to go back to the LNS and complain, the kit is from 2008, and matching the floss would be a problem. I'm just adapting the design as I can. And I am annoyed. This was not a cheap little kit. It's very cute though, so I am hoping I can finish it and not make it look too bad.  Wish me luck.

I don't know if I've posted this before, but I wanted to share a recipe that is part of my family's Easter celebrating . . . glorified rice. My gramma learned this recipe from her grandmother, and I've been trying to research where it came from, because so many of my gramma's recipes were, "til it taste me good", and it's hard to quantify how to make them. It's the one recipe that does not seem to be on the Internet, though, because I can find recipes that are close, but none that are exactly the same. It's not ambrosia, it's not rice pudding, it's glorified rice . . . and it's heavenly. So I wanted to share.

The ingredients: (yes, I use store brand for the most part. I do use name-brand vanilla, Penzey's to be precise. To me, it's the Ferrari of vanillas, but if you don't have it, use your favorite)

4 cups of instant rice, prepared per package instructions.
1 medium can of crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 C of sugar
1/2 t vanilla
medium container of heavy whipping cream

Combine the rice, sugar, and pineapple while the rice is still warm. It melds together a lot better that way.

I have seen recipes that use pineapple juice, not pineapple, and lemon jello, but I can't imagine how that would taste, plus it always makes me amazed that, in the early 1900s, in the hollers of Western Pennsylvania, my great-great-grandmother had access to and money for crushed pineapple. This was truly a special dish if she had that for her family.

When mixed, pour the cream over it and add the vanilla. You can use a little more or a little less depending on your preference. I have adapted it to be less sweet than my gramma's way because Left-brain won't eat it when it's too sweet, and you get enough calories from the cream. It's going to look soupy, but it goes in the fridge to "draw through" and thickens up.

This was a photo I took of the finished product. I love to eat that first bowl while it's still warm and yummy. It just doesn't photograph well. But it tastes, well, divine.

Katie "helped" me make it; she sat on the floor, banging pan lids while the water boiled for the rice. It's not fancy food, not to a modern palate, but it's good, and it's home food to me.

So that's all i have for tonight. I hope your weekend is going well. They are calling for snow on Monday here. Not sure if they're going to be right--the forecasters are started to laugh at their own ineptitude at this point. But Easter means spring is here and it has to warm up sometime.

22 March 2013

In case you haven't seen it

Cross Eyed Cricket re-released the freebie, Slicker Bunny, on their site:

Go here, then to "gift design" to get your copy of it, while it's still out there.

I'm getting through, here in Crazyville. The time change has really been kicking my patootie. That and a new effort to try to get Someone Small to go to bed at a normal hour--she's been staying up til 10 or 11 on a weeknight and does not want to sleep in her own crib. I am so jealous of people who say their baby goes to bed at 7:30 and sleeps all night--what is THAT like, do you know what I could get done with all that time? 5:30 comes early enough as it is, without spending the evening trying to convince her she really is sleepy, so we're starting a new effort to get her in bed by 9, in her own bed. So far, it's going OK, but still, it's going to take some time to get her used to it.

I have been working on a couple things since finishing No Scaredy Cats. I started Told In a Garden's Simple Gifts the next day, and work on that when I get a chance, which is not often, but also picked up the photo-to-chart image of the baby's hand holding my finger. I'd wanted to get it done by her first birthday, but I don't think that is going to happen, since I am not even finished the first page, but if not, I'll get it done by her second birthday. Debbie did a fantastic job charting it, I can already tell you what it is and there isn't that much done. And I started an older freebie my LNS kitted up for my March ornament for the Christmas ornament SAL. I think it's called Winter Moon. I've had to alter the design, since my LNS did not include enough green floss to finish both of the little trees in the design--it just makes it more personal. It's a big ornament, but that's OK, you have to have something for the bottom of the tree, right? 

I have two days off next week. On Friday, we're taking the baby for her 9 month pictures--can you believe she is 9 months old already?--but Thursday, I am planning on spending what time I can finishing ornaments. I think I may get the sewing machine out tomorrow to get it ready and figure out how to use it to maximize my time.

Other than that, not much going on. I am spending a lot of time on Pinterest, finding things I want to do. I like looking at the DIY projects, even though the holiday ones can make me feel woefully inadquate, but I am pinning them more as inspiration. I already have this great vision of white lanterns with red candles in them lining our walk next holiday season . . . and the wreath ideas! Left-brain has masses of old Christmas balls that his first wife bought to decorate their tree, ostensibly til they had enough of the personal ones to fill the tree (and I'll admit, I have done that too for my little tree, I just choose not to use them anymore), and we don't use them, so we just have a box of random Christmas balls that need to be refreshed and reused and I now have some ideas.

If you would like to follow me, welcome to my Pinterest world! And I would love to follow you! 

25 February 2013

A little more stitching time

Somehow, somewhere, I got some stitching time this weekend.


Right after Christmas, our storage hassles came to a head. Left-brain couldn't get to the desk in the office because of the stacked boxes in there, and I couldn't get to anything of mine. It was starting to really annoy both of us, so we reconfigured his mancave. A lot of my boxes are now downstairs, but I can get to them easily and they are no longer a towering death trap, where the heavy things seem to be on top and everything I need is in the bottom box. Our goal, as stated before, is to build a shed, even though I don't know how that's going to work because they just re-did our flood maps and my side yard is even more in a flood zone than it was before, and I don't want our shed in a flood zone. But, when we do that, we're moving all the man toys out there, all the exercise equipment that is downstairs out to the garage, and the area where that is now will be my stitching area/the baby's play area. Maybe then, I can get some real shelves and a suitable table set up. Barring us moving to another house/having another baby/who knows what else happening in the meantime.

But I pulled Waxing Moon's No Scaredy Cats out of my Crazy 15 starts from 2011:

Remember this? (It's the last one in the post. Not the last one to be completed, just the last one in the post)

My progress has been abysmal:

 No Scaredy Cats

But between Downton Abbey Season 2 on Monday, the "Gold Rush" finale on Friday night (that show is like watching a flipping trainwreck, but it's strangely addictive), and then a marathon of DA Season 3 on Saturday, during which Babygirl slept, I got a lot of progress. It's probably 2/3 finished, but I still have her sign to do and her head. And I love it. I did change the cat on her shoulder to a tabby/calico looking cat, just to be different, and it's cute.  I don't know if I'll do the pumpkin necklace for her though. I don't want to buy the charm, and I found out small things that dangle attract fingers that pull (and I'm not talking children's fingers). Not sure how I will finish this. Maybe as a cube, but then again, I may be able to rustle up a small black frame from somewhere. My mom is starting to be on the lookout for frames at rummage sales and the like, and, since those will be starting up again soon, I may be able to find what I need.

I will post a picture when I get a little more progress on it. I wanted to do it last night, but Babygirl was either teething or so tired she couldn't sleep, because she stayed up, fussing, til midnight. Makes for a very tired Mummy, that does. And she was not any better this morning. No fever, nothing obviously wrong, just disgruntled. But she was fine when she got to school, so hopefully, it will pass.

18 February 2013

My weekend

I was so productive this weekend. More than I think I've been since I had the baby.

I attacked the mountain of laundry that has been growing in our hallway for a while.  We're just too busy to keep up with it. Now it's all done. It feels so good to have that out of the way.

I also did a deep cleaning of Babygirl's room: put away all the baby clothes she's outgrown, corralled a bunch of cards that had escaped my efforts to put them in her treasure box, along with her christening bib and booties, arranged all the stufties by her bookcase and made sure her library was neat. I have decided she gets a new book for each holiday and there've been enough of those that she is amassing a nice collection.  Valentine's Day brought her "Love, Splat", which she seemed to enjoy.

I also made this recipe! I must confess, I found it through, which is usually not a good recommendation for a recipe, but I figured it couldn't be that hard . . . and I used store brand Oreos in case it didn't turn out right. But it did. They are yummy. They are rich and indulgent and not that hard to make, and they taste like chocolate cheesecake. My only tip is keep them small, because thof the richness, and use a spoon to dip the almond bark, it's just a lot easier to deal with.

Today I spent the day watching Season 2 of Downton Abbey.  I got through 7 episodes before it was time to do something else.  Babygirl was at daycare--I thought long and hard about whether or not to keep her home, but it's good to have some consistency to her schedule, and I needed time to get other things done, so she went; I know some people may think me a bad mom for doing that, but I have a clean house and a rested spirit for my day, and that makes me a better mom, at least I think.

I finally managed to finish something today. Two things actually. I finished the above pattern, which I started on 1 January 2012. It gives me immense pleasure to have finished it, although it was supposed to have been done by the end of December.

And I started and finished this little guy:

I'm participating in an ornament SAL, and this month's theme was reindeer. I wasn't sure what pattern to pick, but I found this little guy on Pinterest, and he kind of stole my heart. He looks a lot like Beazer, doesn't he? It's from a French site, but I am not sure which one. I need to finish him up, but he was a fun, cute little stitch that took me maybe 3 hours at most.  What do you think? I may redo him on a t-shirt for Babygirl for Christmas next year, but not sure.

I pulled another UFO out, from my Crazy January starts of 2011, and worked on that a little. It felt so good to get time to work on my stitching. I've missed it, I didn't realize how much. I know there isn't a really good alternative right now; the financial issues I spoke of a few months ago are starting to let up, but we won't be out of the woods til at least the end of the year, and what time isn't taken up with trying to earn money is spent trying to make up for the hours I spend trying to earn a living. But I have a plan and I am going to be a stitcher again, soon. And I will appreciate the gift of time more.

One more picture to share. 

She's in love with her "puppy" now, pesters him incessantly. He puts up with her like a champ. I snapped this last week, the first good picture of them together.  My kids!

04 February 2013

Cake pop adventures

For Christmas, I got the idea that I wanted a cake pop maker. I got introduced to them at one of the bridal shows we attended (which are a waste of time, BTW, except for the cake), and have been wanting them ever since. But I didn't know you could feasibly make them at home--I figured you had to have professional equipment, like a melon baller, to do it, and I have a tiny little kitchen . . . and no melon baller.

So when I found out they make a cake pop maker, I was stoked. I looked on Amazon to see if they were expensive (they aren't), if they work (if you're lucky, they do) and then put one on my Christmas list. 

Now is the time I admit that, had I done a bit more research, I would have figured out that you do not need a cake pop maker to make cake pops. The internet is full of sites that involve crumbling up cake, mixing it with icing and making balls. Somehow I missed these.

And I got the cake pop maker. We were going to fool with it the weekend Kaydence was baptized, but it requires vegetable oil, and I didn't have any, and the seven mile trek to Safeway was TOOO far. So it's been sitting, waiting, since then.

Yesterday, I got it out. I had time because the battery in my car died, so all my weekend plans were on hold til Left-brain got me a battery.  I have a Bella cake pop maker, and it came with cake mix to make the balls, otherwise, I'd have been breaking out the brownie mix I keep in the cupboard, for all the spare time I have to make brownies. I followed the directions. The maker smokes the first time you plug it in and turn it on, and they say to toss the first batch you make, which felt a little wierd, but I did it anyway.

It was not hard to use, once I figured out how much batter to put in the little holes, but, to be honest, what came out were more like doughnut holes than cake pops. They weren't very big. I didn't even bother to dip them in the topping, but we ate them just so. Chocolate in the morning, yummy!  I can see taking the maker camping or to the cottage and using it to make doughnut holes for breakfast. It would be a lot more fun, right?

And I just want to say, I am not ungrateful for the gift, and it was pretty easy to use, once I figured out what was going on, and got over the fact that a kitchen device was smoking. If it had been useless, I'd put it in the cupboard or never use it again. Left-brain was making fun of the cake pops while they were cooling, but he ate most of them while the game was on last night. I'm going to try to make the cake balls the right way, with the crumbled cake and icing, but I tried.

15 January 2013

2012 finishes

I forgot to do this before the New Year turned. I managed to get 30 finishes last year. Most before the baby came. Babygirl will only be small so long and I would rather, when she remembers her small childhood, that she says, "My mother read me stories, even though I didn't understand what was going on, she acted them out for me," and "I remember her dancing with me in the living room in the evenings, and smiling at me,"  not, "I sat and watched my mom cross stitch." I can focus on that when she gets a little older. Maybe we can craft together, since I am still planning on finishing things and have a bunch of pretty craft ideas pinned to my Pinterest.

Anyway, here's the list:

5 November--cat freebie

1 September-Thomas-Kitty and Me

8 August-Spooky-Kitty and Me

2 August-August Itty Bitty Kitty Quilt--Val's Stuff

21 July--Bunnies-- Prairie Schooler

19 July--July Itty Bitty Kitty Quilt-- Val's Stuff

1 July--freebie--Jean Farish

15 June--Sharing the S--Sanman

4 June--June Itty Bitty Kitty Quilt--Val's Stuff

3 June--SNN kit-June 2008--UFO since 2008

28 May-Ice Dragon's Kingdom--Dragon Dreams--UFO since 2010

20 May--October floss tag--Heart's Content

17 May-The Rabbit Alphabet-JBW Designs

11 May--May Itty Bitty Kitty Quilt--Val's Stuff

9 May--Just a Little Flaky--Val's Stuff--JCS 2011

8 April--Merry Christmas--CCN--JCS 2011

7 April--April Itty Bitty Kitty Quilt--Val's Stuff

4 April--Hearts of America--Little House Needleworks-UFO since 2008

13 March--Star of Wonder--Fine-ally Finished-2011 JCS

10 March-Carrot Patch-Cosmic Handmade

4 March-March Square--Itty Bitty Kitty Quilt-Val's Stuff

18 February--Half Hour ornament--Lizzie*Kate--JCS 2011

15 February-Winter Forest-Little House Needleworks

11 February--Trim The Tree-Debbee's Designs-JCS 2011

3 February-February Square--Itty Bitty Kitty Quilt-Val's Stuff

29 January-Love and Joy-JBW Designs--JCS 2011

28 January--Fresh Fallen Snow--Little House Needleworks--JCS 2011

19 January--Spring Has Sprung--Brightneedle--UFO since ?

17 January-Yuletide--Plum Street Sampler-JCS 2011

14 January--Lucky Dog-JAB Co-UFO since 2008?

7 January-SNN kit--January 2006--UFO since 2006.

2 January--January square-Itty Bitty Kitty quilt-Val's Stuff.

I won't be mad if my 2013 list isn't as long. My photo albums are getting full.

14 January 2013

You mean this old thing?

Someone Small was baptized last Sunday. I wanted to share because, as textile artists, I thought you might enjoy seeing her in her great-grandfather's christening gown. It is at least 106 years old, maybe older, and was worn by Left-brain's grandfather, his mother, him and all his siblings and cousins, and our niece and nephews. Think of all the beautiful ceremonies it has seen. It was sewn by my MIL's grandmother, out of beautiful batiste, embroidered (if it's not broiderie anglaise, it's something very close) and edged with hand-made lace, truly a work of art. She also wore her paternal great-grandmother's crucifix, tucked against her skin, and a crucifix her godmother gave her. My mom had a bib and slippers for her, so that she wouldn't ruin the pretty dress. I probably should have made something, but I made her, so maybe that was enough?

It was a beautiful service. I teared up, but managed not to start openly crying. Babygirl took it in stride, she had her pacifier in while she was being anointed with oil, and sucked quite contentedly on it as she was carried down the aisle by the same priest who married her father and I, to be introduced and the newest member of God's Church.

She did want to eat the food at her party, though. She was eyeballing everything, especially her baptism cake. Which had purple flowers on it, since purple is her signature color. It was a nice day, all in all.

09 January 2013

The lost

has now been found. Rossana got her ornament last night.  You can not imagine how ecstatic I am. I was at the point of planning a re-stitch, and that alone inspired me with great dread, since I do not get much stitching time, and having to redo an ornament, let alone a design I already did, I was a little upset. At least now I can stitch for myself!

I have been going through the old freebie charts I have and pulled out a few to kit up and do, now that I am determined the sewing machine is coming out of the box. I am going to try something new, at least for me. I have so many pretty things, have been blessed to be able to have them, and it's ridiculous that so many of them end up in boxes, usused and underappreciated. All that sewing fabric that I have, I am going to try to match it up, color-blind, to the designs I have, then tweak the colors to match the fabric. They may not look good here for a while til I find my way, but what is the point of having things if they bring me no pleasure and are never used?

I have a recipe to share with you today, an easy one! Best friend Brea came up for Babygirl's baptism this past weekend (yes, Mummy got teary), and she said this is one of her family's favorites, perfect for a cold winter day! We told Left-brain it was chili, because he doesn't eat soup. He ate two bowls.

Southwestern Soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes (or diced tomatoes with chilis)
1 can regular diced tomatoes.
(Note on these: Brea used small cans, she said the recipe calls for two cans of Ro-tel, but she substituted regular tomatoes for the second can. I will check definite sizes when I go to Safeway next, but they were smaller. If you want bigger cans and can find them, use them, or if you want spicy, use two Ro-tels)
1 regular can tomato paste
1 can chili beans
1 can black beans
1 can shoepeg corn (you can probably substitute if your store doesn't have, we don't tattle in Crazyville)
1 pack mild taco seasoning (you can always add heat, but you can not replace a burned tongue)
1 pack dry ranch dressing mix
2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, diced (if you have a food processor attachment for the blender, use it. Much easier)
1 bag tortilla chips
1 bag Mexican-style cheese blend
a container of sour cream (optional)

Brown the ground beef in a pan. Saute the onions in a large pot with a little oil til they are somewhat translucent. Drain the ground beef, put it in the pot, add the canned stuff, the taco seasoning, and the ranch dressing, along with a can of water.

Let simmer for a while, until you're hungry. It should look a lot like chili, but it is not.

Serve with the tortilla chips and the cheese.

It made enough for us to eat, and I still froze some for another meal. I love low-effort recipes that make enough for two meals. It's like a little food bank account!
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