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 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 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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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" 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!