Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Farewell 2008, Hello 2009!

It's been an amazing year for me as far as stitching is concerned. If the ghost-of-Christmas-still-to-come had visited me a year ago and I was shown what 2008 was going to be like, I would have found it hard to believe.

It started with some down time in January and picking up the needle and thread to finish BOAF's Peace, which was started in 2003 and left in limbo for 5 years. That I continued onto other projects was not really earth shattering. What was really great this year was discovering the stitching blogs and a whole stitching community online, worldwide! That was just the most fun thing to have happened to me this year.

I was encouraged to start a blog, and that happened just over 3 months ago. It's been fun, creative, extremely nurturing and supportive, and I've started to make a few stitchy friends. What an amazing time and I certainly wouldn't have enjoyed it without you! I've discovered new designers, new finishes, shared interests because of your blogs!

So, a big THANK-YOU to you ALL! I have loved reading your comments and visiting your blogs.

Now, this bit is just some record keeping for future references. Completed projects in 2008:
  1. Peace (BOAF)
  2. Bluebird's Message (BBD)
  3. Quaker Garden (BBD)
  4. Their Song (BBD)
  5. Where My Heart Blooms (BBD)
  6. My Needle's Work (LHN)
  7. Beneath the Sunlit Sky (BBD)
  8. Strawberry Garden (BBD)
  9. June Berries (BBD)
  10. Bittersweet Sampler (BOAF)
  11. Winter Sampler (BOAF)
  12. Sally Spencer (BOAF)
  13. Of Female Arts (Primitive Needle)
  14. Monogrammed Pinkeep (for Leena) (Stacy Nash Primitives)
So, what plans for 2009? I have signed up for some exchanges and this will be a first. I have to be careful not to over commit myself and I'm already eying the calendar nervously!

I started 2008 being primarily a BBD and BOAF fan. Since then I've discovered Shepherd's Bush, a lot of 'primitive' designers, and fallen in love all over again with Prairie Schooler. Strangely enough recently I saw some old designs that I liked from over five years ago and I still like them. Here's one them that I'd like to stitch in 2009:

Crowflower
by Workbasket

I've had this BOAF chart for a very long time and it's a fair size one, for me. This might be worthy of a SAL later on!
A Very Fine Sampler
by Birds of a Feather

Another one I must stitch is this:
Autumn Leaves
by Prairie Schooler

Actually I hope I will get to stitch all four seasons!

Of course I have to include my new favourite - Shepherd's Bush.
My Mom's Garden
by Shepherd's Bush

My stash has grown at an embarassing rate since I started my blog. Oh well, it's fun and it's non-fattening plus something beautiful leaves our hands for others to enjoy for years to come. It will be interesting how things will look a year from now, as far as what I get accomplished stitching-wise! But I have no desire to rush through this coming year. Rather I hope I will take time to slow down just a tad and 'smell the flowers' so to speak.

Sending Happy New Year wishes your way. I wish you all Peace, Health and Happiness and may 2009 bring you lots more stitching fun!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Some pretty flowers

How to apply the expression "my eyes are bigger than my stomach" to stitching? My eyes are bigger than my fingers? Nope, doesn't sound right, does it? But you get the idea - I always think (or hope) I can stitch faster than I actually can!

This is how far I am with my SB Family Sampler.
"the big picture"

"I'm ready for my close-up"

It is so pretty to stitch that I had to drag out my Jane Austen movies to go along with it. Just seemed appropriate somehow. I love the French Vanilla linen. I'd love to get some more for other projects.

This is just such a lovely time right now. Between stitching, visiting a few blogs, reading, TV watching and all the fun stuff, time has been flying by!

Thanks for visiting. Let me know what you're stitching! :-) Bye for now.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

OK. That's enough...

Snow, that is. Thank you very much, we've had our White Christmas - over and over and over- so it's time to say goodbye to snow!

Sometimes you can have more than enough of a good thing. We had a beautiful Whiter than White, records-kept-breaking, Christmas. It snowed all Christmas Eve day, then a break on Christmas Day which was great as it allowed us to get together for a family dinner, then heavy snow all day Boxing Day. No recreational shopping this year on Dec 26!

Today, we thought we could try getting out of the garage. We did...about a car length's - then got stuck. The back lane was just a river of snow. So, the guys dug and pushed our way back in the garage. My husband and I then decided to do walk up to the shopping area, about 10 plus blocks away. While the main streets are relatively clear, the side streets are still big piles of snow. You can't see the black of the road at all.

An hour and a half later we got back home. Along the way, we met with LOTS of cars stuck on the road, people with shovels digging away. Everyone was relatively good humored about it all. In a way it allowed you more interaction with people who would otherwise be out and about only in cars!

Despite the messiness of it now, it was so beautiful when it was snowing, especially when it got dark and the falling snow sparkling under the street lamps with Christmas lights twinkling in the background. What a lovely Christmas gift. (Now it's like waiting to get rid of all the wrapping paper, tinsels & stuff!)

Here are some stitching updates! A little more progress on Quaker Alphabet.
Quaker Alphabet, put on pause as of Dec 26

I started a new project, which is Shepherd Bush's Family Sampler. I realized yesterday that I will be starting the MM&IRR stitching in less than a week's time and that my scroll frame will be tied up with that project.
This is the first time I've ever stitched a Shepherd Bush design. It's so delicate and pretty. I have only started on the border so didn't bother with a photo. Hopefully more progress in the next day or two.

I'm also hoping to finish it by Dec 31! Wish me luck!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are enjoying the holiday season, snow or not.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Dashing through the Snow!

Santa Rides
Prairie Schooler (2002)

Actually, Santa is riding in his hot air balloon, well above the snowy West Coast! It is very unusual for us here to get snow, let alone so much snow, but oh it's so pretty.

It's been a little strange with all this snow because it's made getting out and about not so easy. So, I 'cocooned' and went through my stash for my next stitch. Here is a progress shot of Quaker Alphabet by La-d-da which I started on Sunday.


You know, every time I switch from one count of linen to another, it's an adjustment. This time I am adjusting from 28 to 32 count. I know once I get into 32 count I'll love it again but right now it's a bit of a struggle. Now that I see the photo I wonder why I didn't do a better job getting the creases out of the linen! *sigh* Someone was impatient around here!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

I am embarrassed to say that I've just started my baking today. Nothing like a deadline to motivate me so I'd better keep on going.

Thank you my friends for stopping by. I was so happy to get so many comments on my last post and from new visitors to my blog. Thank you so much! You've just given me such an early Christmas present!

I hope you will have a healthy, happy Christmas surrounded those you love (and Santa brings you a big stash of stitching goodies)!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Finally I can start Christmas!

Happy Happy Dance! I am now off for the holiday season for 2 weeks! This is a catching-up post so a few things to show and tell. But first, please indulge me in a few words before the photos.

December is a stressful month, isn't it? There's Christmas to look forward to, but there are lots of activities and obligations tied to that. I was feeling quite stressed, tired, blue, just holding my breath for that last day of work to arrive! The weather here has been wild. Buckets of rain for awhile, very little sunshine. Then the snow came last Saturday evening and we are now in a cold snap. More snow fell during the week and more to come on Sunday. The snow plays havoc on the traffic but other than that it's very pretty! I quite like it (now that I'm off work!).

Through the December blues I stitched. I was tempted to rant in my blog but my better self kept my finger away from clicking on 'Publish Post'. The backspace and delete keys are also very helpful in preventing you from regretting your post - the equivalent of 'think before you speak'! Don't get me wrong, a little rant every now and then is helpful, but I felt mine would have just be moaning and whining...

So, I stitched, a little bit each day if I could. It was a type of meditation I suppose. And here, ta-da, is the little gem.
Of Female Arts
by Primitive Needle

I must have guessed that I would feel very stressed in December as this design was very simple and soothing - no special stitches and only one colour. I have to remember this trick in the future.

The original design called for 1 strand over 2 using Soie d'Alger but it didn't say how many skeins. I stitched 2 over 2 and used all 4 skeins of WDW Cappucino. I really liked this colour on the Vintage Light Examplar linen. The floss colour gave it a faded aged look.

Now, I will show you another stitch I made for Leena. She emailed me that she has received my package. We have been doing snail mail this year as we both love that and I decided to surprise her by stitching this monogrammed pinkeep for her as she had stitched a gorgeous pinkeep for me (left) in August.
Sister Pinkeeps joined once before one departs for the other side of the world

On the right is the pinkeep I stitched for Leena. The design is 'Mongrammed Pinkeep' from Stacy Nash Primitives. I had a piece of Meadowlark left over from I finished BOAF's Sally Spencer. Then I picked out the colours as burgundy and forest green as I knew Leena liked autumn colours. I stitched with 2 strands as opposed to 1 that Stacy used. However, on the back, I stitched with 1 strand so you can see the difference that makes.

After I finished the stitch I considered how to finish it and decided to do a pinkeep so I pulled out the pinkeep Leena made for me this year (left). I was amazed because the colours I had chosen were such a complement to the ones she had used on mine.

Here's the back of the pinkeeps.
Two pinkeeps, up against the wall!

Well, that wasn't exactly a typical exchange but it was the first gift I have stitched for anyone. I was very happy that Leena liked it. I'm sure I will be stitching this again as having something with your initial is kinda special, don't you think?

While I was 'zipping up' my blogging lips until I felt better again, I continued to visit blogs for creative inspiration. Partly it meant I just bought more things! One of the sites I found was Lauren Alexander's. I purchased a calendar and some stickers from her etsy shop. I just love the cheerfulness of her artwork!
Sorry my photo isn't very good. Here's what it looks like at her etsy shop.

In addition to the above, I'm feeling like a very happy gal right now, because:
  • I have lots of library holds that have come in so I will have lots of wonderful books to keep me company while the snow falls softly outside this weekend.
  • I have received 10 comments on my last post! OK. This might not mean much to many people but it meant a lot to me as it's the most comments I have ever received since I started blogging, hey, 3 months ago tomorrow! Love that!
This weekend, I have to play catch up on preparing for Christmas. I also have to decide which project to stitch next. Stay tuned!

Thank you for visiting! Hope you are staying warm and healthy while waiting for Santa! I will write again soon.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

A little progress & lots of inspirations!

It's my end-of-weekend post where I find myself wishing I had stitched more. However, here's a progress shot on 'Of Female Arts'.
That's just to prove to myself that I have made some progress!

There are lots of distractions. One is the beginning of the Festive Seasons and I feel so behind with everything. The other is the enjoyment of reading blogs! I know many of you have written about the dilemma of stitching or blogging. Well, I've been tripping the light fantastic with some wonderful festive blogs.

First is Loreta's blog. She has a beautiful site - wonderful photos and wonderful stitching. My favourite this week is her Advent Calendar. I love it. As much as I want to stitch it though I think it's stitching AND sewing! Well, here's my wish to my stitching fairy godmother - I would love one of those! All stitched if you can help it! (Well, a girl can always wish, right?)

Then there's Nicole's blog. Now Nicole's was one of the ones I've visited way back before I even had a blog. I was always in awe of how much and how quickly she can stitch up the charts. Lately, I've found her Christmas Tea so inspiring that I had to order it for myself. I won't get it in time for this Christmas but I hope to add it to my Christmas stitching for Carol's challenge.

Then there is Miss Jane's blog. Of late, Jane has shown some lovely Shepherd Bush finishes and her latest post shows her Christmas decorations which reminded me I need to get mine up and sparkling too!

I'd better stop there. This week I need to get my Christmas decorations up and do more stitching! Have a good week. Thank you for stopping by and I love reading your comments!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Yiiiipppppppeeeeee!!!

Has anyone noticed Toto, my stash-happy dog, hasn't been around for awhile? Yeah, he's been a bit sad that he hasn't seen much stash arriving lately so that he could make a fool of himself running around yipping and turning in circles. And he's a bit miffed that I have a picture of Daisy and Julius on the blog, but not of him! I will have to do something in the future to remedy that.

Well, before I even got through the front door I hear wild dog noises drifting my way. When I opened the door, Toto was spinning in a circle howling: STASH! A box of stash in fact. Well, OK, this poor stash-doggy has never seen the size of some stitchers' stash which mine pale in comparison, but he is happy.

This being Tuesday it was my yoga night, and I have to pat my oh-so-mature head for not ripping open that package right away. I would wait till I get home so I could really enjoy it. I told Toto to sit on top of the box and guard it and let no one come close. He gruffed in agreement. What a great stash-doggy.

So, here is my Stash Report. The charts are from Needlecraft Corner. I'm stock piling Prairie Schooler charts for the winter!
This second photo includes a back order from the Thread Basket - La Dame au Gateau as I like to bake (when time permits!).
The third photo is some Crescent floss from Shakepeare's Peddler. Theresa does colour conversions for some charts. She has one done for PS Autumn Leaves and I really wanted to use the overdyed floss. Now I have to see if I have the appropriate linen in my stash. I am really looking forward to stitching Autumn Leaves, maybe during the holidays!
The final photo is a shot of my small start with 'Of Female Arts'. I'm really enjoying this stitch. The WDW Cappucino floss looks wonderful against the Lakeside Linen's Vintage Light Examplar. It's too bad photos never really show you the true colours! I've been stitching with 32 count, and this linen is 28 count so it looks huge to me!
Well, frankly I'm a bit pooped from all the excitement. I'm glad to finally be able to show some photos! I have a few more PS charts coming in another week or so because a stockpile has to have more than 5 charts!

I hope you are well and enjoying the start of the Holiday season. I don't enjoy the extreme commercialism of Christmas that can get on one's nerves but I really enjoy seeing houses and trees lit up with Christmas lights, especially in these long dark days. Driving home from work in the dark is more pleasant seeing twinkling lights along the way.

Toto and I must ready now for slumber. Good night!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Fa la la!

I'm warming up my vocals for all the Christmas tunes to come. In November I was groaning about all the Christmas stuff that's been coming up increasingly earlier and earlier in the shops, on the streets, even at the office! Now, on the last day of November, someone has turned on my Happy Elf switch and I'm being wierdly cheerful and looking forward to Christmas. I have Christmas tunes playing today!

I can blame it on work being hectic but I think last week I was just out of sorts. My body was here but my mind was everywhere else. My modus operandi seemed to be deer-in-the-headlights and not going anywhere fast and not getting anything done. Good thing no one ran me over.

On Stitching - well, I didn't take my Sally Spencer/Zippity-do-da finish to the framer as it didn't feel finished to me. So, I've pinned it to my bulletin board for further inspiration to fall like fairy dust over me. Meanwhile, I was really at loose ends about my next project. I knew I wanted to do these two charts that I had posted awhile ago, but I needed to get the threads and I can't just go down to the store and get some, or can I?
I was reminded that there is a LNS about an hour's drive from here. I bought my floor stand scroll frame there about 8 years ago and that was probably the last time I was there. The reason is most of the things they carry are not my style at all. A lot of their samples are stitched in Aida - 'nuf said. But Janice (my stitching buddy to be) said they carry some overdyed floss now - not a lot but at least I can go and look at colours available. Yesterday morning, my DH drove me to the store, amidst the rain! Wasn't that sweet?

Here's a side story concerning men, driving & directions. So, we head off to this store at least an hour away, in an area that we don't usually go to. I asked DH 'should I get out the map?' He looked at me (you know the look) and said 'no need. I know the way'. OK. So, we drive on the highways in the pouring rain and it's just a mass of grey out there. After 45 minutes he said 'maybe it's time to get out the map!' Ha ha ha! Oh we laughed about that.

We arrived safe and sound and I did end up with some floss for the above 2 charts - different floss than they called for. I am using WDW Cappucino on Lakeside's Vintage Light Examplar for the 'Of Female Arts' and WDW Celadon on Lakeside's Lentil for the AAN 'Two Birds' (I might skip the birds in which case it will be 'The Tree'). Lastly I bought WDW Kentucky Bluegrass (love the name!) and Cadet for LDD 'Quaker Alphabet' that's coming. That should go on Lakeside's Examplar. I just finished cutting out the linens for the first 2 projects so I am really looking forwarding to starting a project again!

I have some stash coming but they are taking forever to get here. We're getting to two weeks and I start to twitch. By the way, I had a not-so-great experience at an ONS this weekend. Basically I found a bunch of old charts for a few designers and I was really excited that I might possibly get some of these things I've been looking for. I must've spent at least a precious hour or more yesterday going through and then narrowing down my selection. I did email them to ask what was available. The answer was 'one'. This was probably out of at least a dozen that I had asked for. That was frustrating and I should know better now that if somethings look too good to be true they probably are.

Onto something more pleasant. Carol is organizing a 2009 challenge. Check out her blog where she has a link. BTW, the link only seems to work with the IE browser. Carol and I were emailing back and forth about why I couldn't read the info on the 2009 challenge blog site. However, the pleasant side of this was I got to have a great email conversation with Carol as a result of this. As much as a blog is nice, it's kind of a one sided conversation isn't it? Please feel free to drop me an email if you'd like.

I am excited about December not only because Christmas is coming but I have an old friend from New Zealand who is doing a quick stopover in Vancouver. Gosh I am so looking forward to seeing her, in TWO weeks time!

Sorry I don't have any new photos to show. I hope to have some progress shots next week. In the meantime, here's a cute video a friend sent to me. Enjoy the doghouse with the males in your life. I even sent it to my DS with 'watch and learn!'

Stay warm and cozy. Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Live well and count your blessings

For a change of scenery - no stitching, just some words for the soul.

In February 2002, we were going through a rough patch in life. One day I found some freebies at the library. One was a 'W' magazine. When I got it home, I found a photocopy of an article tucked inside the magazine. Sometimes signs from heaven drift down to us and if we are paying attention we can catch them and see what they have to say. In this case, I was reminded to take perspective which helped untangle some of the stress. I am sharing that article with you today.


Live well and count your blessings

If Earth's population was shrunk into a village of about 100 people with all the human ratios existing in the world still remaining what would this tiny, but very diverse village look like?

That's what Phillip M. Harter, a medical doctor at the CA Stanford University School of Medicine, attempted to figure out.

This is what he found:
  • 57 would be Asian
  • 21 would be European
  • 14 would be from the Western Hemisphere
  • 8 would be African
  • 52 would be female
  • 48 would be male
  • 70 would be nonwhite
  • 30 would be white
  • 70 would be non-Christian
  • 30 would be Christian
  • 89 would be heterosexual
  • 11 would be homosexual
  • 6 people would possess 59 percent of the entire world's wealth, and all 6 would be from the United States
  • 70 would be unable to read
  • 1 would have a college education
  • 1 would own a computer
  • 80 would live in substandard housing
  • 50 would suffer from malnutrition
  • 1 would be near death
  • 1 would be pregnant

Think of it this way. If you live in a good home, have plenty to eat and can read, you are a member of a very select group.
And if you have a good house, food, can read and have a computer, you are among the most elite.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more fortunate than the million who will not survive the week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death...you are fortunate; more than three billion people in the world can't.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% in this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.
If your parents are still alive and still married...you are very rare, even in the United States.
If you can read this message, you are double blessed because over two billion people in the world cannot read at all. And because someone was thinking of you.

* * * * * * * *
Personally I would like to add that if you have found something you love to do, stitching for example, and can 'afford' such a hobby that's an extra blessing indeed!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

A Stitching Friend

Yesterday morning, I went to my framer's to pick up Winter Sampler. Something interesting happened there for which I had laid the ground work sometime ago. Intrigued? Here's the story.

Since I've been getting so many things framed the past few months and seeing Janet (my framer) quite frequently on Saturday mornings, I had asked her if she had other customers who do cross stitch as well. She said she knew maybe 3 people who come in every now and then to get their finishes framed. I had then asked her to feel free to pass on my name and number and mention that I'm looking for fellow stitchers to 'play with'.

When I walked into Janet's yesterday morning, there appeared to me a mirage - a stitcher with a bunch of Shepherd Bush finishes laid out over the table, with Jill Rensel mats! Oooooh, lovely stuff! So, Janet kind of introduced Janice to me and we got to chatting a bit. I oohed and aahed over her SB stuff and she admired my Winter Sampler and was intrigued by the BOAF linen. We could have just kept on gabbing right there in the shop. However, my husband was with me as we were just starting our errands so I had to go. Janice said she would phone me and she did! We are likely going to visit each other next weekend as fortunately we live maybe half an hour's drive apart! I think she was as excited as I was about sharing our interest (obsession to some) in stitching.

Wasn't that the neatest thing to happen?!!! Ask and ye shall receive!

Oh, here's my framed piece.
Winter Sampler
Birds of a Feather
Linen is BOAF Meadowlark

My first choice for the frame was actually a wooden white frame with a wavy carving all around, smudged with a tan colour so it had a very primitive look. This frame was the next best thing and I like the details which give it a festive feel.

I started stitching a Christmas gift this week - it may be a pinkeep or an ornament for hanging up. I'm not sure yet. I can't show you any pictures since it's a gift. My head is still spinning a bit from chatting over the phone with Janice. We were both so excited - it was like finding someone who can finally speak your own language!

I will sign off now. Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends and neighbours. And Happy end of November to the rest of us! Four weeks and a bit to Christmas!!!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Zippity Do Dah Zippity Eh!

My oh my, it's almost Sunday evening and I've just finished my own Zippity Do Dah design!
Adaptation of BOAF Sally Spencer sampler

The 2 lines of the 'Zippity Do Dah' song is something I've been singing or humming to myself for years. I don't know how long I've been doing it. I know no one has ever caught me singing it because I only do it when no one is around! It's my way of saying thanks for the happiness I feel. Sometimes I hum it to try and pick myself up. When La-d-da came out with their 'Zippity Do Dah' chart I was really happy to see it but never got around to buying it.

I've had the Sally Spencer chart for years. Although I liked the design, I was never crazy about the style of the alphabet used. So, this year my happy tune and the design came together and I am very happy with it. The colours in real life look better than in the photo. I will take it to my framer this coming weekend.

Speaking of framers, here are two of my newly dressed pieces!
June Berries
Blackbird Designs
Bitter Flower
by Birds of a Feather

I am quite pleased with these. While I was there, I did pick a new frame for the Winter Sampler. As I've said before I was crushed that our first frame choice was no longer available, so I hope this second choice will be a good one. The fella helping me with picking out a new frame said he liked the second choice though he could understand why I loved the first choice. Then he proceeded to pick up the piece of sample frame of #1 choice to compare with #2 choice and I put out a Stop-sign hand. "Stop!" I said. "Do not taunt me with what I cannot have!" and we laughed. (He did stop.)

I've recently fallen in love with Prairie Schooler charts - all over again. I've stitched PS charts years before but since being in Blog land I've been able to see a lot of them stitched. And being a fan of poetry, I was really taken with some of the seasonal ones. When I read on Leena's blog about the verse on 'Autumn Leaves' I knew I had to stitch it - "Come said the wind to the leaves one day... Come o'er the meadows and we will play..." Oh, how sweet! Thank you, Leena, for writing that in your blog!

Fortuitously I found the Year Long Prairie Schooler Exchange this week, so I joined! I joined this 2 days after I joined the HOE II Exchange. OK, maybe that's enough exchanges to get involved with at this point. I have also asked another stitcher if she'll like to do a personal exchange and that will happen in the new year. So, I'll be going from knowing nothing about exchanges to being quite busy - well, busy enough for me.

Stash- a couple of recent purchases which show I seem to be attracted to monochromatic designs.

I've gotten back to cooking again, or trying to. The sukiyaki dinner went well although it's nicer when someone cooks it for you, which was how we were introduced to this dish at a restaurant when we visited Toyko over 20 years ago! Last week I had some successes and some experiment-gone-wrong meals. Now, I should write these down (the good and the bad) so I can remember them!

Through tripping through the blogs I have somehow found the Mennonite girls can cook site. My husband's family are from Mennonite roots. I am the outsider who married into the clan. Some members are more 'practicing' than others but over the years all have come to accept me. The tantes especially loved feeding me (as when I met my husband I was a slim young lady!) and I especially enjoyed Mennonite baking! Yum! Through this site I hope I can pick up some precious recipes.

This week I will have to set up for my next projects which I think will be small presents. I also want to make some changes to my blog layout over the next couple of weeks. I am currently using one of the basic templates in Blogger so I'm limited (I think) in how much I can put in the sidebar. So, a little bit of homework is in order! If anyone has any tips on templates etc please let me know, thanks!

Thanks for popping around. May your stitching fingers be nimble and happy this week!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

What a lovely break it was!

As I write this, it's nearing the end of my 4 day weekend. What a lovely break it was! I didn't realized how tired I've been feeling. Oh to sleep in and wake without an alarm clock! Wonderful. I had a Sunday with just stitching and reading blogs - what a treat!

Yesterday the sun came out which was a wierd phonomenon! Oooooh, what's that brightness? Where are my shades? So, we went outside while it lasted. Today, I did much needed organizing and some housework so feel very virtuous. (I think I need another stash reward don't you?)

Here's progress on my Sally Spencer sampler. Once the 'frame' is stitched, I will stitch on my new words. It will be something fun and happy as deserving of the design. I hope it will turn out too!
Leena and Annemarie, thank you for your comments on the last post! Leena, I think it will be lovely to stitch your daughter's poem! Annemarie, I'm not sure how I will stitch those 2 lines but the right thing will come along and I'll know it then, and thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

While I was doing my organizing today, I found this UFO from my quilting days!
I think it's from around 1995 or so when I got into making small quilts. It's basted ready for the hand quilting so what happened? I dunno! I might've mentioned that I'm not great for finishing. I love selecting the fabric and quilt pattern and putting the quilt together, but the hand quilting (or machine) and finishing I'm afraid *yawn* I get bored by that point. I had taken a Sampler course and have probably a dozen lovely quilt blocks (burgundy, moss green, cream shades) but they sit patiently for some TLC one day!

I think I'd better get started on dinner. I am making the Japanese cold weather favourite at our house - Sukiyaki. You have all the ingredients laid out at the table and you cook the dinner at the table, kind of a variation on fondue I think. It's a bit of prep work but it's yummy. I hope Yuko reads this so she can send me some tips!

Having this breather made me realize I want to (and need to) try some new dishes. I do have new cookbooks so I just need to *gasp* spend a bit less time stitching/blogging! Can I do it? I guess time will tell.

Have a good week, my friends! Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, 10 November 2008

One Wild and Precious Life

Well, one more precious day of my long weekend remaining. I stitched a lot on Sunday but took a break today. I also got a call from my framer today - the beautiful frame that I was so looking forward to for my Winter Sampler has been discontinued! She said she couldn't find any around so it's back to square one. I was so disappointed.

In a quiet moment that most of us will take tomorrow for Remembrance Day, I offer a few words for contemplation. I actually wrote it quite awhile ago but needed to find the right moment to post it.

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My love of reading stems from the wonder of how words can be used to convey so much. I think the power of words are never more powerful than in poetry because so much can be said in so few words.

Mary Oliver is a contemporary American poet. I don't remember how I came to know her poetry but probably from an anthology. I have several compilations put together by Roger Housden. Last Saturday as I was building my blog (back in September), I happened to look upon a book of poetry close by my computer called "Dancing with Joy". One of the poems was "The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver. The last two lines of the poem go like this.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

These two lines hit me in the solar plexus. Take away those 4 words italized and you get "tell me, what is it you plan to do with your...life?" Isn't that something that each of us have been asked, whether by a parent, a teacher, a relative, a friend? But insert those 4 words "one wild and precious" and immediately you sit up and take notice. Hey! It's not about what career you want to choose when you grow up, it's about WHAT you want to do with your ONE ('coz you only get one) WILD ('coz Life is not containable) and PRECIOUS (just because it is).

I love it. I want to stitch those 2 lines one day; one day when I find the right design for it. I

May you celebrate your one wild and precious life tomorrow with the ones you love.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Rainfall warning & Bliss!

OK. It's very strange to say there's a rainfall warning and bliss in the same sentence, I know. We've had lots of rain the last week or so and they forecast more this weekend. However, I have a four-day weekend and having lots of rain outside means I can burrow down in my stitching den and while away the hours! Bliss!

After finishing my Winter Sampler last week, I set up the other half of my Meadowlark linen in order to stitch BOAF Sally Spencer sampler. However, I first got distracted with the U.S. Election early on in the week, then spent time catching up on blogs so that I didn't start stitching until Thursday. Here's a progress shot.
The colours are wonderful. The red is called "Buckeye Scarlet" - love that name! Funny thing the red, blue (Brethren Blue), and white (Buttermilk) remind me of U.S. flag colours - very timely don't you think? I'm really enjoying stitching this. As I write this post, I have stitched a lot more. I even (cough) hope to finish it by Tuesday - well, one can hope. I am going to forgo the alphabet and instead I am putting in something different. What, you ask. Hmmm. You'll just have to wait and see! (And I have to figure out if my idea will work!)

I see on a few blogs lately that the stitchers have been very generous with give-aways. I have yet to win one but it's such fun to see these happen. I was wondering if I should do something too as I have been blogging for... hmmm, less than 2 months. Can't really count much of an anniversary can I? :-) I have so enjoyed my time here. Of course I always enjoy people visiting my blog and leaving comments, but it's not all about me is it? How boring that would be. I love visiting all the creative stitchers - you have been truly inspirational to me. I have found new designers, new ways to finish and it's just fun reading about what other stitchers are up to around the world!

Today I took my the three finished pieces to my framer, Janet. She's framed all but one piece of my work since 1993! I am really looking forward to getting my Winter Sampler framed. Janet suggested a frame totally opposite of what I was thinking of, and I think it will be gorgeous. I expect that I will have pictures of them next weekend.

Just to finish off this post, here's my book stash received a couple of days ago.
So, the cookbook is an attempt to eat healthier. My favourite novel this year - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I wrote about here, is now in my personal stash (I was reading a library copy before). The book in the middle is "In and Out of the Garden" by Sara Midda. She is an English artist and has produced these exquisitely delicate drawings and watercolours. Her work makes me feel like a young girl saving treasures.

I will post more this weekend. I especially have some words for Remembrance Day. Thank you for stopping by my corner of the world. Happy Stitching!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Treats for the Grown-up Gal

Hello November! I am more than happy to wave goodbye to October. It was a busy month at work and I was sick for most of it. Never mind. I am feeling better now and the bright side is I got to stitch while I was literally off my feet. I've completed some major work at work and I can breathe easier for a bit. The other day I even found myself a bit bored! But I didn't complain, no sirreee-bob!

So, this is a longer blog! Lots of things to blah-blah-blah about, lots of eye candy!

First of all, thank you for all those who visit the site and leave comments. Your kind words and well wishes when I was sick really helped make me feeling better. I am so thrilled every time I find them the day after I post. It's like when you're a kid at Christmas, you leave milk and cookies for Santa. The next morning, you see the crumbs left and you race to the tree to look for, then find the presents!!! What a thrill! It's like that. Even for those who visit and don't leave comments, thank you for visiting. I didn't mean to leave you out!

Second, a finish! Oh I am so thankful I have completed something and feel like I've got my stitching groove back. I hadn't finished anything since August. So, here it is. If you compare to the original design, you will find that I have changed the ground. I found the heavy stitching on the ground section just too much, so I just decided to do it free form and made it lighter. I am pleased with it and it suits me better.
Winter Sampler
by Birds of a Feather

I have also included a couple of finishes from July and August. I will get all three framed next week.
June Berries

June Berries is from the booklet A Fine Collection by Blackbird Designs and a fine one it is. It has one chart for each month and plus an extra one shown on the cover of the book. I have stitched August Melon as well but haven't got a photo of it yet.

Bittersweet Flower
by Birds of a Feather

For those who have stitched this sampler before, you will have noticed that I left the words out. I was leaving them out till the end to stitch but then I liked the airiness of the piece better so I left the words out.

Third - STASH! Yipppppeeee! I am still in squirrel-mode and keeping the economy going! The first grouping I can thank Jane for (she's my nominee for Stash Queen!). On a recent post, she had a huge stash from The Thread Basket. This was when I found out about other French designers. So here are my acquisitions.
starting from top left and going clockwise
Pluie de fleurs by CC - Coeur de Lin
Allons compter violettes by Tournicoton
ABC l'automne by Cmon monde
C'est le Matin by Cmon monde

Now, I have a wee problem with 'Pluie de fleurs' (Shower of flowers). I loved it when I saw it on the website. When I received the chart, I realized that a lot of the chart has 'over 1' stitching. Now, I can handle a little bit of 'over 1' stitching but there are lots more than I (and my eyes) feel comfortable with. My question is - is anyone interested in either buying this from me, or trading some charts in return? I mean, I would love to have this stitched and hanging on my wall, but I know I won't do it myself. So, let me know if anyone is interested.

On Friday I received my order from Stacy Nash Primitives. The Christmas booklet is gorgeous and is perfect for stitching small gifts.

A Simply Early Christmas
Hen & Chicks Pincushion and Sewing Pouch
Monogrammed Pinkeep

OK, more treats - books! Fall is a great time for new books. Here is a really cute one I found.
Isn't that little kitty the cutest? The book wasn't very expensive and I thought I would buy it so that I might give it a try one day. If not, the cute little animals make me smile and they look quite realistic!

Next, cookbooks from two of my favourite ladies. Fabulicious! I have 3 other Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and the recipes are great. Yes, she does wield butter like a magician. Now you see it, next it's on your thighs!
Tomorrow I will set up my next stitching project (all will be revealed next time!).

Do you feel festive already? Believe it or not I bought some Christmas ornaments on Friday. They weren't particularly Christmas-y which means I can use them all year round. One of them is the blackbird you see in some of my photos above. He's real cute.

I leave you with a quote I saw recently, which just made me laugh.
"One day I will burst my bud of calm and blossom into hysteria"
Not sure who I can attribute this quote to but it's a good one! It describes what the stress at work felt like in September and October!

Have a great week, and Happy Stitching!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Progress & Stash

Instead of my usual chatty post, this will be relatively short. I have been knocked down the second time by the flu although it's not as bad this time. On top of that I did something to my right ankle on Friday so I've been limping around - probably sprained it. I have got so much on my to-do list but it seems like every time I get up Life just seems to like giving me a body slam. So maybe I just have to accept that things will just take longer to get done, and stop gnashing my teeth about it.

On the plus side, I have been stitching more this week. So, here's a progress on BOAF's Winter Sampler. Almost there!

Earlier this month Traditional Stitches had an Anniversary sale here's some Stash! I really needed some linens and these were new-to-me. I especially love the Vintage Patina which is a lovely soft green. The SB chart is something I've been eying for awhile too.
from top to bottom
32 ct Maple Sugar from Lakeside Linen
32 ct Vintage Patina from Lakeside Linen
Family Sampler from Shepherd Bush

Thank you for stopping by for a visit. I hope you & yours are well. I will get a longer post in next time. Take care!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

BOAF Winter Sampler

I have started a new stitching project - Winter Sampler by Birds of a Feather. I still love their designs. The recommended linen is BOAF's Meadowlark. Now, I don't know if you are familiar with it. I've had this in my stash for a few years, but when I first got it in the mail, I wasn't sure what to think. It's a wierd green-yellow, with splotches! Hmmm. However, it turned out to be wonderful for Winter Sampler.
It was such a pleasure to start stitching this. Essentially it only has 3 colours. The onyx for the reindeer and some of the alphabet, with some of the alphabet in charcoal, then the light cream colour for the snow flakes! There is a little red heart which is really sweet. I am enjoying stitching this a lot. The other half of the Meadowlark will go to stitch BOAF's Sally Spencer later.

I've spent my down-time last week organizing my projects. Yesterday I went to the giant crafts store Michael's and got a bunch of DMC threads. A lot will go to my MM&IRR neighbourhood, but some will be for my Stacy Nash charts, and Tralala charts.

I am 'anxious' to get stitching again. I haven't had a finished project since August. Since joining Blogland it's been a lot of fun but also it's been very distracting! I have come across two very disconcerting events:
  1. Stitch Envy - this is when you visit other stitchers' sites and go "ooooohhhh, how lovely! I want to stitch that! Where can I find that chart?" then off I'd go looking - or - I see the exchanges and I sigh "oooooohhhh, wish I was getting that". (Next year I'll get into exchanges.) You see, Stitch Envy!
  2. Stash Envy - you all know what feeling when you see someone else's new (or existing) stash and say "LOOK at that!" with mouth hanging open. Again, very exciting but very distracting (especially on the budget).
As I post this it's Sunday morning and I've just come back from a walk with my friend. It's gorgeous outside, a wee break from the rain we've had all last week. I was finally able to get out there to do fall garden clean-up for a couple of hours yesterday so now feel a great sense of accomplishment!

I will leave you with another couple of finished stitching from 2003. I love these and they hang out together on a wall in our bedroom.
Kindness Sampler
Birds of a Feather
Completed 2003

Flower Basket
La-d-da
completed 2003

As usual, thank you for stopping by. I love getting comments from visitors (yes that's a hint) so please don't be shy. You can also email me as well. Have a great week, and happy stitching!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Thanks Giving, Eh!

It is our Canadian Thanksgiving, so it's appropriate to give thanks (also say 'eh!' as it's so Canadian eh!). Even if, I've been sick with the flu since I came home from work on Friday! However, I have to look at this way, make the most of what life hands you. The good thing was I got what I had wanted to accomplish at work before I got sick, and I think my body just said 'ok, that's done, and it's time for you to take care of me now!'.

There's always a bright side to everything, right? For me, it was because I had to 'stay quiet' that I got to read a fantastic book, and attempt my first pinkeep!

First the fabulous new book I discovered is "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Borrows. What a title! You can tell just by the title it's something unusual and it must be even a tiny bit humorous! I haven't found a book I so thoroughly enjoyed for a very long time and I read a lot! While there are lots of great reads I can recommend, this one is so full of heart that I want everybody to read it.

Here's where you can read more about the book and its authors. I won't go into a review of the book but give you the reasons I loved the book:

1. It's written in the form of letters. I miss the whole grace of letter writing. We are in such a fast paced world that it's difficult to really say it all in an email. Besides, there is the anticipation of receiving a letter in the post and the opening and reading of it - so precious that someone has gone into all that work to say hello! In this book, the story unfolds by the letters written amongst the characters and it's amazing how the characters come to life in front of your eyes.

2. It is very funny - shoulder shaking funny at times. Other times it will catch you unaware and tears with spring in your eyes and your heart will clench. After all this is about what happened during World War II. It exposes the humanity and inhumanity but most of all, it celebrates Life.

3. This book is also about reading. These people belong to an impromptu, and quirky book club that sprung up out of necessity. You'll have to read it to find out, but books are also celebrated in this story.

One final note about the book. As you can see there are 2 authors. The original author is Mary Ann Schaffer. When she fell ill, her niece (already an author herself), Annie Barrow, stepped in to help finish the book. After I finished reading this book, I googled for more info as I was hoping that a sequel is forthcoming. Sadly I found that Mary Ann died earlier this year. What a wonderful treasure she has left for us to enjoy. Thank you to both authors.

The other 'accomplishment' during my sick weekend is that I got to make not one, but two pinkeeps! I have been thinking of trying my hand my pinkeeps for awhile, gathering supplies slowly like a bird gathers bits and bobs for its nest. I had found a couple of stitched ornament pieces that have been kicking around unfinished for years. (Did I mention I am not a 'finishing' type?)

So, here is the first pinkeep done on Saturday. I followed the instructions from Nicki's class here. Thank you Nicki! It was also helpful to have the lovely pinkeep Leena stitched for me as an example.
from Holiday Homestead
Prairie Schooler

This one was stitched in the "olden" days, circa pre-2000, using aida (eeek!) but you can see that I was at least getting away from white aida! I was all thumbs when I was making this one into a pinkeep. It was accompanied by mutterings and grumblings about how I don't like finishing!

Well, it didn't turn out too badly, after lots of adjustments of course. The next day, I decided to try my hand at the second pinkeep.
Garden Angel
by TLC Designs

This second one was stitched on linen and it was part of a kit to make into a hanging ornament. Like I said, I am not great at finishing stuff into anything other than getting it framed! But I am learning! I was amazed that I felt more comfortable doing this second pinkeep and am quite pleased with the result.

Isn't she a sweet angel too? TLC Designs is a local designer by the name of Tina Chau. I'm not sure how much she is designing these days. She used to work at my LNS but that store closed a few years ago. Some of her designs can still be found at Button & Needlework Boutique in Victoria, on Vancouver Island.

So, I'm recovering slowly. I'm still feeling so tired and achy. But I have a wonderful book to re-read, and 2 new pinkeeps to keep me company! Have a good week!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Almost the weekend!

Well, there's one more work day to go till the long weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving. Work continues to be hectic and stressful so I am looking forward to a break. The weather has turned quite chilly this past week, dipping to 2-3 degrees. I'd better get out in the garden and do fall clean-up before the frost turn the plants to mush!

I am going to kit up a few stitching projects this weekend. Small projects. I have decided that I need to get some quick projects to complete so I feel that sense of accomplishment. I am also going to try making a pinkeep, or two! I found a couple stitched but unfinished ornament size pieces from many years ago so they will be good for my first try. Wish me luck.

Here are a couple of stitched pieces from a few years ago.

Garden House
Ewe & Eye & Friends
Completed 2003

I really like EEF but this is the only one I've stitched. When I saw the Tralala chart "Maisons de Campagne" the houses reminded me of this house.

Bloom
Birds of a Feather
Completed 2003

I've seen this chart featured in a few MM&IRR designs. It's such a fun and happy look. I don't know what's happened to the BOAF designers. I know the 'new' owner has decided to focus on needlepoint, and they are lovely, but I miss the x-stitch designs!

I hope to get more organized and get involved with some exchanges in the new year. If you have any suggestions let me know. I know we are living in very shaky economic times right now. I hope you are keeping well and stitching is keeping you in good company.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Oooh-La-La!

Well, here we are, another Monday, another beginning of a long work week! But wait, what is that white envelope waiting for me when I got home today? It's Stash! It's Euro-Stash!!! Oooh-la-la! Toto is doing flips!

One day last month, I was bopping from one blog to another, following new links never seen before (!) when I found a SAL for this chart. The stitched portion just had the 2 houses, and the blog was in Spanish and it took me awhile to figure out the designer was Tralala, then I frantically searched for their charts.
Maisons de Campagne

Of course, once I found it, I found other charts I wanted to buy. I emailed my friend Leena and ordered this and two more charts from her store. There are more cute ones to be had - check it out!
ABC Bienvenue

Miss Tigri

Usually I would say I don't do "cutsy" but these just spoke to me. They really appeal to my whimsical side. I just love them. Somehow, Miss Tigri reminds me of my Miss Daisy. I'm sure this will not be the last of the Tralala designs in my stash. Oh what a lucky girl am I! Who cares if it's dark and rainy outside? Who cares if it's just Monday and there are 4 more days to go? I have new stash! Always a wonderful thing!

Life is quite busy at the moment. Work is crazy busy. The garden is calling for care because it's time to get it cleaned up and ready for the long sleep till spring. Books are calling as Fall is the season for the new books. I have holds on new books now arriving at the library and bookstores for me - on top of the usual novels, there are lots of great cookbooks! Then of course there's all the stitching ... sometimes, there's too much of a good thing and not enough time!

"An embarrassment of riches". Not sure where I've come across that expression before, but that's a good phrase. I am very thankful though, even if I do get a bit cranky I can't get to it all on the weekend!

I hope you are all well out there in Blogland and having fun stitching. Thank you for stopping by, and thank you for leaving your nice comments. Take care!