29 January 2014

S.E.X. in the mail

I did not go to the LNS on Saturday. They were calling for snow, which did not come, and I didn't want to get stuck in that. We also have been slapped with another round of a severe cold. My lips are taking the brunt of it this go-round--they are cracked and bleeding, and Sunday, it was so bad, I woke up with ducklips, they were that battered. I have been scrambling to find something to soothe them, and the only thing which seems to work is Neutrogena Hand Cream (don't worry, it said it's OK for lips, it's even nicely-flavored. Those people think of everything.) I seem to be a bit better, except I am losing my voice, but it's only 3 days til the weekend, and I can rest.

So, Friday morning, I placed an order on 123. Mom gives me GC to there every Christmas, and I still had a little balance on one from last year, plus the one from this year. So I ordered these lovelies. Some other things were on back-order so there will be another package. It's nice to be able to do this for myself every so often. I do admit though, that blue is not what I thought it would be, not sure what I'll stitch on it. I still have not stitched Someone Small a Christmas stocking, but the chart I like for her would go well on that fabric. So, should I use it for that or do the Frosty Forest on it?  Does anyone know how these are supposed to be laid out even? Are they ornaments or a picture? I guess they could be whatever I want them to be, but I'm so indecisive.

Does this winter weather affect your hands? I used to never have dry chapped hands, but the last three winters have been atrocious. I thought it was just my office air for the last two years and kept Gloves in A Bottle at work, but this winter, it's just as bad. This week has been terrible, because I am working on Heatherfield, and the fabric is snagging on my hands. Ugh.The Gloves in A Bottle isn't really working--cue the Neutrogena.  Left-brain says this is all caused by having a heat pump in the house, and we should get a bigger humidifier. I am going to think about this--this winter has been a mess.

23 January 2014

PS season sampler series and Santa's Pets WIP

For Meari:
Spring Samplers:

I stitched the middle one already. One of these days, I'll finish it into something.
Autumn Samplers:

This is my favorite one of the set, I love the colors.
Summer Samplers

This is not my favorite and I can't explain why. Maybe because I'm a beach-y summer person, not a summer garden person? We all know about my brown thumb, and what that didn't kill, the hail dispatched last summer, (although I did read about a family that went off the grid, and had tomatoes in their dining room, and had the plants survive for years. It would be interesting, but Left-brain might not like our new house plant)
And my new progress on Santa's Pets. I put him down this month, after pushing to get the section done in a little over a month. I enjoy him, I really do, but I don't like the rows going up and down. It slows me down and I also find it harder to count. the stair/steps work so much better for me. Could it be I have finally found my trick to working these large, full designs?

Glass blocks

Thank you for your comments about my glass block. It was fun to make, and I think they are so cool. I got my supplies at AC Moore, but this is probably something you can find anywhere, all year round.

I did find a couple places to buy the decals if you go and your craft store doesn't have what you like.

This site has some religious and non-religious decals.

And Etsy. I forgot, Etsy is more than just an online craft fair. I normally don't buy crafting supplies there, but I think this one is so pretty! And there are links to other people selling other decals.

You can also look on Pinterest for ideas of what to do with the blocks. They're pretty affordable all in all. I don't think I paid more than $10 for the block and the decal. Lights, of course, cost a little more (maybe I should have posted this before Christmas, so the lights would have been on clearance), but it's maybe $20 for the whole thing. All in all, not bad.

Meari had asked about the other charts in the series of PS Samplers my WIP is from. I took pictures, but Blogger is acting up right now, so I'll try to post them later.

22 January 2014

My other craft project

I am way prouder of this than I have any real right to be, but considering I don't do a lot of other crafting, or really much of anything else, this little glass block is probably my masterpiece of craftiness. 
I got the stuff to make it back in July at AC Moore. It looked too easy to be true. And I have lots of those projects under my belt: tee-shirt iron-ons, making decorative trays, quilting. But this one actually wasn't that hard. I used my bone folder to do the actual rubbing, then pulled really slowly and kept checking to make sure bits were transferring.
There were probably ways I could have made this better. I know they have some sort of material you put on to make a frost, and that would probably help keep the wires from not being visible, but . . . it was my first try and I didn't want to jinx it. And it looks good, I think. Next year, I'll play around a little with them.

I did see a lot of craft projects involving these blocks on Pinterest. They looked pretty cool, but don't ask me how people manage to accomplish sticking things in there. It seems like a "ship in the bottle" kind of craft. I am sure I could accomplish more if I had a Cricut or something like that, but I don't  and I'm not looking to get one anytime soon.
So that's that. I probably should start trying to do more of these little crafts. They may not be perfect, but it was fun to make and quite satisfying.

New Start

I was desperate for a new start last night. So I went through my kitted up stuff, and found a piece of Monet Blue linen in another project. It's not the prettiest blue, but more a passable grey, and I'm pretty sure it's a Wichelt linen, which I do not like, but I couldn't wait til Saturday, so I nabbed it for at least one of these samplers.

I've had this chart probably 10 years. The spring one of this series was something I bought on my first visit to The Stitching Post in April, 2001, and I loved it, so I bought the rest of them. I know this is OOP, all of the set is, so, even though I usually get rid of my charts when I'm finished with them, this won't go. Besides, with my attention span, how many years will it take for me to get all three done?

Like I said, I am changing the colors because I just don't like it on tan. I am actually surprised I bought the chart, but it must have been a "complete the set" purchase--the other ones are a lot prettier, the fall ones are gorgeous. I am leaving the deer in this sampler in his original colors, at least right now, but I may change him to one of the 840-palette, since that seems to be the color our deer turn. The wording is in 3799, but I may switch out some of the key words to 3750 or 930, it just depends on my mood. The deer will be backed in 762, and the pinecones to 838.

This is what I have so far. It seems to be working, although that flippin' Wichelt linen, I really have to watch my tails--Wichelt is unforgiving, as I've learned at the fair, and it tells all your secrets.

It's funny, really, PS is one of my favorite designers and  one of the ones I have the most of in my collection, but I don't stitch a lot of them.  I don't know why, they're nice to stitch, and a nice break from shading. And it's hard to mess them up--the one I did in VC silks turned out lovely, if I do say so myself. Maybe I ought to embrace my prim side and stitch more of them, except I am not sure the qualify as primitive.

I did take some time to read last night. I have a great book called "Among Others", by Jo Walton. It's an epistolary novel, which I usually don't like, but this is about her year in a boarding school. She is a fan of fantasy and sci fi, and sees fairies. I think they're a coping mechanism for dealing with her traumatic life, but I'm not sure, I still have 150 pages left to go to figure this out. I usually don't read this kind of book at all, but it's basically a coming of age story, and I like those, so I'm giving it a shot. We'll see how it goes.

Not much else happening. The snow stopped. It was very windy last night and blew a lot away, at least off the deck. But very cold. The schools are shut down. Even daycare closed. So the other two parts of the family are in, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Someone Small went out in the snow yesterday. She was fine with getting dressed til I put her gloves on--hated those--then didn't want to go out, then did want to go out, and pitched a fit about coming back in. But she really doesn't have the proper clothes for playing in snow--no snow pants, and her boots are more like Uggs, so it was just a moment outside, not play time. She has the rest of her childhood to enjoy snow.

So that is all from here today. Keep warm!

21 January 2014

Planning an LNS trip

I am heading to my LNS this weekend, if it doesn't snow. I haven't been in over 18 months--proof I've reached S.A.B.L.E.--but I've been working hard doing OT, and I really want the Forest Friends charts, so I'm determined to get there. I don't know if there will be anything else too tempting to pass up. I kitted up the Prairie Schooler Winter Samplers from a long time ago, but I want to do them in frosty blues on grey (I don't know why the designer did browns on tan, that is not frosty and wintry to me--granted, my interpretation may bomb worse, but we'll see) and I don't have a single piece of grey evenweave or linen. How did this happen? This is why I would never become a successful Doomsday Prepper--I have everything except what I actually need, so I am probably not the best person to face the zombie invasion with.

We finally got all the decorations down after Christmas. It feels better, like I can actually breathe again. I love Christmas, please don't think I don't, but, by the time the holiday is over, I'm so done and ready for summer. I have my winter stuff still out--Left-brain was confused as to why I left out snowmen and pinecones, but I think I have him straightened out. I even managed to make a new decoration this year, one of those glass cubes with lights inside it, and a vinyl cut-out in the front. I'll post a pic when the camera charges, but it is pretty good for being something I did right after breakfast one weekend morning back in the fall. I'm debating about whether or not to put out the few Valentine's Day tidbits I have out, but I may just stick the flag outside, put the dishes out my mom bought for us for our first married Valentine's Day, and call it "done". I don't know though.

It's snowing now--we're supposed to get between 8-14 inches. On Sunday, it was a chance of snow showers. At least I don't commute and Left-brain didn't go in today. We'll just do what we have to do, maybe do a bit of sledding at lunch. And, yes, I went up this morning in the spitting snow and got milk, tortilla chips, and Coke. I told Left-brain that me, marooned in a house in the snow with no ready caffeine would not be good. He, of course, wanted to head out this morning to buy a new TV--ABSOLUTELY NOT. And of course, Metro Crazyville does not have a BestBuy,just a Walmart, and so he wanted to go to the next biggest city, 20 miles away in the snow, with our daughter. ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NO. So they're watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

OHHH, and the storage issue came to a head. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE MY HOUSE. It's beautiful, but it's either a starter home, or a home you would move into when your kids leave the nest. It's not a house for 30-somethings to try to raise a child in--it ain't happening well. And since we aren't in a position to move quite yet, we're here.  I'm tired of having my stuff all boxed up and unavailable, and working in my office with a towering pile of plastic tubs in the corner of my eye, threatening to fall over, and the garage being full of various and sundry seemingly sharp objects at shin level, plus the inevitable junk (I know I rant about the car parts that are in there, but, seriously,  Left-brain has cleaned the garage about 3 times in the past year and those tires are still in there, and they need to go, along with my boxes to Goodwill), so he finally decided to put in a shed or two. And I told him, when we redo my office, I want bookcases. I don't care where they come from, I am having them. I told him, and logically so, that having two or three bookcases would get rid of a bunch of those tubs, because that is where my "library" is. And it would be nice to be able to access them quickly. And to paint this room. And put in some new curtains. Plus, the house would show better when we inevitably sell it to another person seeking a starter home. I'm excited about that.

Anyway, I think I'm a little complainy today, so will leave. If you are in the snowy areas, stay warm inside.

20 January 2014

While I was watching Downton Abbey . . .

Barnyard Christmas
Prairie Schooler
JCS Ornament Issue 2001
I got my first finish for the year. And I love it.
This was one of the first ornaments that I really loved out of the first JCS Ornament issue I bought.  But, somehow, I've never actually stitched it. I have been going through boxes again, and found that issue, and, along with a couple others, this one really jumped out at me. It took me a little over a week to do, but last week was a little busy around here.
I ran for Town Council. A vacancy came up, and I was tired of complaining and doing NOTHING to fix it. A supervisor once told me that anyone can complain, a real leader steps up and fixes the issue, so I wanted to see if I could be a leader. It was scary. I know it doesn't come across like that in this blog, but in real life, I don't have a lot to say. Or I think that whatever I have to say, no one wants to hear. I had a lot of bravado when I took my application and letter of interest up, but it faded in the ensuing month. That little voice of doubt crept in, that one that says, "You haven't held a leadership position since 4-H. You majored in theatre, what do you know about making rules for other people? You are nothing."  And, then, by Wednesday night, I told my husband I didn't want to go talk to the town council, that it was stupid and no one would vote for me. And, Left-brain, being who he is, got me back on track, helped me pick out an outfit that said, "I'm young but not too young, you don't know me, but you might want to. Give me a chance." And I went.  Scared to death, but more scared not to, because, so many times, I have passed up doing things because I was scared I wouldn't succeed, and what example does that set for my daughter? Or, heck, even myself? Sara Bareilles' song "Brave" came on in the car on the way over, and I took it to heart.
There were 4 of us there: one of my more vocal neighbors, another guy who ran for the council last year and barely lost, another guy who goes to the meetings, and me. The vocal neighbor had great qualifications, the other two guys were long-time town residents, and there was me, with my letter of interest, written by hand on a piece of notebook paper torn out of the notebook I use for work because I don't have a printer, with my hair in a ponytail, asking for the chance to help make our town a place my daughter will be proud to be from.
I didn't win. But I got a vote. And considering no one knew who I was, that was pretty cool. The vocal guy, who IS a really nice guy, got read the riot act by the town council because he called them names, got none. The second-place guy got none. And every one of those council members urged me to come back--they said they might have voted for me, but they didn't know who I was, and wanted someone who was actively involved. And the thing is, I don't feel like I lost. Because, having lived in a small town the majority of my life and knowing the delicate dance of the outsider and the local, I know it's not easy for someone who isn't "from" somewhere to get approval, and I got 5 people to tell me they wanted someone like me. And that feels awesome. More than that, I saw a goal through. I didn't let the fear of failure keep me back. And I know, in the broad scheme of life in general, this is nothing: one person, standing up in small town America and losing the election, but, for me, it's a significant thing. 
So, that's that. I'm going to become politically active.  I promised Katie I would do everything I could to make her world and her childhood, wonderful, and it's a promise I intend to keep.
I am also resolving to start getting things finished all the way when I finish them. I'm taking this ornament to the finisher this weekend. Still have to figure out a fabric to back it with, but I'm getting a little annoyed at all the pretty things I have in the bin I keep done things in, that deserve to be seen, but aren't, because I just don't have the skill to finish them right, so I resolve to start getting things done, even if I have to pay to have them finished. It's going to be a bit of an expense, but I've spent more money on dumber things than ornament finishing.
Now back to my afghan.

13 January 2014

Oh, and I wanted to explain

I am not posting a lot of pictures of Katie on here anymore.

It's not that I don't want to share them. I think my girl is beautiful.

But, a few months ago, I was searching my traffic sources and someone found this blog by searching "cute baby girl with pacifier." Now, the Pollyanna side of me thinks that they were only looking with the best of intentions, but most of me is worried someone saved photos of my child for nefarious purposes, and that makes me physically ill. My family is very tolerant of my blogging habit--Left-brain knows his antics get posted on here, but all he asks is not to have his picture posted. And I comply with that, because he has a right to his privacy and I've seen women rip other women's husbands to shreds (this is one of my biggest pet peeves about women, just cause someone's husband doesn't "float your boat", it's not an excuse to make fun of him. I know my husband looks no better or worse than anyone else's husband, but he has feelings and I can't bear to have him criticized). But I have also had to learn Katie deserves that same privacy and protection, and part of me feels like I let her down, big time. And I refuse to allow that to happen. I do post them on FB, but you have to be a friend to see 99% of them--I can at least restrict who sees her on there for the most part. Blogs are great, but they don't offer that protection.

So, I'm backing off on posting them. I hope that people who read this understand.  I appreciate how some of you kept us in your prayers when I was pregnant, but I would like to think you would also want her protected from some weirdo online. I've been going back and forth about this, and it's eaten at me. So, please, it's nothing those who care did, (except if you're the person googling "cute baby girl with pacifier", then, yeah, it's you), it's me. And this may change as Internet security changes.

but if you want to see her and you have Facebook, friend me. A lot of you are my friends anyway. Otherwise, at least for now, I'm going to try to go without posting about her.


A few weeks ago, I found a book at the library about the return to "Americana" in the US. It's called "The United States of Americana" by Kurt Reighley. I am trying to re-purpose my life into a much simpler one, so the idea interested me. And it seemed kind of cool, at least in the description, but then I started to read the book.

Stupid me skipped ahead, because I saw it referenced needlework. I know most of my readers stitch, and I know we've all dealt with the "I used to do that, but I don't have time." or the "That looks so hard, I just couldn't do it and I don't have the time."  (I must be a magic person, I work 60 hours a week, run a house and have a toddler and OMG, I find time to stitch. I stitched during Downton Abbey last night. So I was hoping that they'd at least pay cross stitch a respect.

UMMM, no.

Apparently this book is written for hipsters, for whom something must be cool or ironic to be worthy of their attention.  The description of cross stitch is "The medium of all those cutesy kitchen wall hangings. (Want hip alternatives? Investigate Julie Jackson's world of Subversive Cross Stitch) . . . Can be taxing for those with a touch of ADD (Reighley, 200-201)."

How nice to have my chosen form of artistic expression reduced to an anachronism. A hard anachronism.

First of all, have you seen a sampler like the ones that the author references designed in the last 10 years? I realize a lot of what I do borders on the "cutesy," though I prefer to call it "whimsical."  But it's my preference. The harder, more impressive stuff is out there. I know. I collect it, and put it away, because I have a lot of hard stuff started. And I know that vintage samplers from the 20th century were not always works of art, but they aren't something to be mocked. They were made by women sitting down, after a hard day's work, making something to beautify her house and her life. Sound familiar?

I also don't like the implication that Subversive Cross Stitch is aspirational, or something us oldsters--because Gen X is turning 40, y'all--couldn't appreciate. I've looked on that site. I don't care what people stitch. I just choose not to stitch that myself, having made a conscious choice not to decorate our house in a profanity motif (but if they start showing it in Southern Living, I'll think about it, but probably not. Fbombs don't go with my lighthouses theme). And as I am getting older, being ironic and snarky is less and less attractive to me. I don't look good in snarky, just like I don't look good in skinny jeans.

And maybe it's just a general frustration that cross stitch gets no respect. None of the needlearts get the respect they deserve. It's like people realized they can sew with the advent of these TV seamstress shows--how did they think clothes got made? But instead of taking the time to learn how to sew well, Pinterest is full of "cheat projects."  Needlepoint is reserved for those stockings you can buy for Christmas with the name machine-embroidered on it, and cross stitch, well, we're too freakin' busy to make little x's.

Maybe the real issue is that the general population is too busy to sit and appreciate a well-crafted item, or that they've been conditioned to think they can't create it. What are we chasing that we're so busy . . . what do we value that our time is too valuable for an outlet? Stitching for all these years--since 1988, a little over two thirds of my life, has given so much more to me. I think I've said it before, but it gave me comfort when my grandmother died, and when my father was in Shock/Trauma, unsure if he'd survive. It has helped give peace to my broken hearts, given me confidence when mine was low. It's given me a means to be creative and enjoy the creative process. It's given me a means to take a breath, to slow down. If I've learned nothing over the past almost two years, the ability, the desire to slow down and appreciate that life doesn't have to move so fast, is so precious. We will never get today back.

And so that's me. I'm gonna keep reading that book, if only because I feel I should read the whole thing if I am going to criticize it. Maybe my opinion will change? 

01 January 2014

Happy New Year!

I hope that the cold is starting to recede for my readers in the US. It was 1 degree here in Maryland yesterday morning. Which is just too cold. Except if you are a bubble. I couldn't get my bubbles to freeze. I just stood outside, looking silly.

So, I note that I lost a few readers in my long absence from blogging. And that's OK.  Thank you for sticking around. I am having trouble with my desktop, and not sure how long  this laptop is going to survive, but as long as it's here, so am I.

I promised a picture of what I am working on right now.

This is the most current picture I have of Santa's Pets, which was a design in the 2009 Better Homes and Gardens cross stitch calendar. I want this done in time for the fair this summer, and so I picked it up before Thanksgiving, and this was my progress about a week ago. I put it down to just take a wee break, and am working on a fairly simple afghan, which I will post next time. It's exciting to be able to stitch something fairly intricate again, I haven't been afforded the ability to do so for a long time, so it's a joy to work on this.
Other than that, I am working on my effort to get the house un-decorated from Christmas. I finally reached my limit after all these Christmases of having to look through 15 boxes to find our ornaments and then the sitting stuff, so I implemented a new rule: color-coded boxes. The sitting stuff went in navy boxes, the ornaments and tree-related items in purple boxes (they were on sale at Lowes, otherwise I would have gone with red and green).  I also cleaned out our ornaments, removing all the glass balls that we never use. Some of them were ones my mom bought for me before Left-brain and I got together, when she was worried I'd never have enough ornaments for a tree, the others were ones that Left-brain had from his first marriage. Like I said, we never put them on the tree, they're cheap, and I have seen all these wreaths made from glass balls, so I think that is a better use for them than having them taking up space in the boxes and never being used. We only took the simplest balls; I figure I can go buy more when Hobby Lobby puts them out next year, and maybe make two or three wreaths. Everything looks much neater now, and there are about 5 fewer boxes to sort through. It's a good start to my overall plan to neaten and organize around here. So we'll see how it goes.
Well, I have to run. My computer screen appears to be tripping out. So, I will post when I can.

Finish and a new start!

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