Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - A Turning Point

Hello, lovely readers! I've noticed I have gained new followers this month - thank you kindly for supporting this blog as I've voiced my doubt about continuing, but more on that in a bit.  Well, I'm so excited to kiss this year goodbye! This will be a long post which I haven't done for sometime but it definitely comes from my heart. I've organized it into sections so you can jump past any topics as you wish to!
First of to set the stage, I must tell you what's been happening to me this year and then the rest will (hopefully) make more sense. 

(1) Your Money or Your Life.  We've all heard the expression and as I've grown older and wiser (ahem) I can certainly appreciate what that means. You work, you make money but there is little time to enjoy your life. The idea is that you make money while you can, and play when you retire. Well, I think we all know that this traditional mindset applies less and less in this fast changing (and downward declining) economy.

I am self-employed and have been able to work with two large sized clients for the last ten years or so. I've always been asked back by one of the other so even if there's been small gaps in work that was ok, I was still working. However, in the last couple of years the work has been dwindling. The face of the working world (literally, as a lot of my clients have retired or been downsized) has changed so that I have found myself being nudged aside by perhaps younger and let's face it, cheaper resources. That was the case back in May and I've been a woman of leisure since.

At first, I relished having the summer off and playing in the garden. I thought perhaps in the fall, as was typical, there may be work again.  However, this time around, it was all quiet except for the rustling leaves. I did talk to someone (a recruiter) about going back to work again but then I realized "I'm done." I couldn't imagine facing the corporate working world again, the tremendous stress that I went through in my last contract and many of my old colleagues are still going through. 

The long and short of it is  - I'm retired. At least I am retired from my previous work life and now the world is open to me to seek something new. I have no idea what it will be but I think I've finally admitted to myself that that old door is now closed, both pulled from the other side and kept closed on my side. So, lemonade anyone? Lemon Cake? Limoncello? Yes, when life hands you lemons...

2013 was a surprising turning point for me. I never would've imagined this. There are other elements too that made it a tough year but I think I will keep those to myself for now as they involve other people. So I am actually grateful that what happened to my career happened, and that I feel open to new possibilities. 2014, as my calendar above states, will be Living in Gratitude. 

(2) Enough words, onto some stitching!  I've created a new page above (see header) with all my 2013 stitching. You can see it here too.  

Yesterday I spent a lot of time with my scissors, fabric and sewing machine. I started to prepare some linens for my New Year's start! I also hauled out a lot of my smalls so that I start doing the handwork in January. Here's a snapshot of some of the pieces. 
One of the things I've had to adjust to not being able to buy things with the snap of my fingers! lol. But you know, we've all said to about our stash, there's more there than we could ever stitch so I am lucky to be able to finally stitch a lot of things that I've been squirreling away for my "retirement days". 

(3) Books - paper books, audio books, e-books...I love the written word. By the end of today I will have read and/or listened to 125 books this year! 
This is just a sampling of books.  

I have a lot of cookbooks. The one new one that I bought this year is Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo. I just love her cooking. What sold the book for me, when I first borrowed it from the library, was the chocolate scone recipe! Then I saw there was enough to admire that I bought my own copy. 

Fiction - thank goodness for the library or my life would be sadder and poorer for it. My favourite this year has to be The Rosie Project, which I've mentioned on my blog earlier this year. You see I've purchased my own copy. I've noticed I have purchased more e-books too which has astonished me.  The other book you see above called Three Souls, was given to me by a friend. Her friend is the author and this is her debut novel. I thought it was quite good and wanted to mention it here. 

I have read so many good books this year I feel so rich! I am on Goodreads though I have not been very active with making friends, etc. If you are there, look me up. (not sure if the link will work, let me know if it doesn`t).

The other two things in the photo are A Fine Romance by Susan Branch, and my set of Downton Abbey seasons 1-3 which just arrived today (notice the shrink-wrap is still on)!  Yes, I have missed all of the hoopla with Downton and have only started watching it this month via a library loan. Well, those discs were so worn they skipped and I saw this deal on Amazon after Christmas, so they are mine to watch at my leisure. However, I should watch them all soon as I understand Season 4 will launch soon.

(4) Isn't this the longest blog post ever? Yes, absolutely. That's also why I am thinking of starting another blog, one that's more for my writing, introspection, new discoveries, poems I like, art that I want to explore etc.  I think trying to fit everything here is too snug a fit. So, I shall see, but have no fear, I will keep this blog going and it will continue to have a stitching focus. 

I had mentioned I took a 6 week art course from a neighbour in May 2012. I had so much fun with it. Here is a couple of photos of my artwork. 

The class focused on some sketching and a lot of watercolour. I would take it again but, unfortunately, this woman has moved away so I must try and find another class. Meanwhile I want to get into a habit of doing some "art play" on my own. 

(5) Finally, THE END. It has taken me almost 2 hours to compose this post. I had actually made notes of all the things I've wanted to say first!  I feel I can cross another thing off my list.  And now I must away and get more things done before I kick back and sip bubbly all evening!  I will visit your blogs later and admire all your year-end reviews! 

I want to thank you all for your support throughout the year. I don't always reply, and I will repeat this once again, I can't comment on a lot of blogs. If your blog is on my Blogroll, I read it even if you never hear a peep from me. 

I'm sending you all a big hug and Best Wishes for a Healthy & Happy 2014! I am feeling sentimental and I haven't even started drinking yet! ;-)  Julius and Daisy are sending purri-hugs too.  !!! See you next year !!!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Last two finishes of 2013

Thank you for your well wishes on my last post. I did see the chiropractor but I was also sore for 2-3 days afterwards. I'm sure it had something to do with Christmas stress. But I survived and am looking forward to ringing in a new year.  Before that happens I want to show you my last two finishes of this year. 

We start off with a UFO from over a year ago. This is Spring Song by Blackbird Designs.


This next set is Garland Fair by Blackbird Designs. If you have seen this design you will notice that I made some small modifications.


Even though the design only called for using GA Maple Syrup, you will notice I used other colours as well. For the acorns, I used 1 strand MS and 1 strand (light) GA Burnt Orange.  The moon has 1 strand MS and 1 strand GA Wheat Fields. There is also some red using 1 strand MS and 1 strand GA Weathered Barn.  The effect I wanted was like doing some colour-washing on a sepia toned photograph. The wording "With Gratitude & Grace" just came to me and I quite like it. I used my family name for the initial. 

I've wanted to stitch this oop design for a long time and now that's another one crossed off my list! I want to thank Lynda (no blog) for loaning me this chart! 

There are a few things I want to complete before 2013 is over. It may be something superstitious but this has been a tough year and I want to give it a proper farewell and shut the door, and open a new one called 2014 and hope for brighter days. I will be back to post again tomorrow. 

Julius says "Mom, tell all the nice people out there that I love that they come visit and that they adore my cuteness!" MMwah!
Will be back tomorrow. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Hobbling towards Christmas

Hello, dear stitching friends! Christmas is almost here and I want to slip in a quick post to wish you a very Merry Christmas!


The title of this post refers to the fact that my back went out yesterday morning (yes, wouldn't you know it?). I knew it the moment it happened and I was very "uncomfortable" all day yesterday. I tried lying down, doing stretches, etc. but there was no fixing it.

I was wondering whether to put up with it but decided phoning my chiropractor's office just to see if he's even in. As luck would have it (thank you thank you!), there is an opening this afternoon so I can look forward to "not hobbling" tomorrow! I am so-ooooo thankful for that! 

Meanwhile I did make up 4 batches of cookie dough this morning. Crazy I know but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes! Hopefully I will be able to start baking them this afternoon. 

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Three Small Finishes

The title gives it all away - a quick post to show you three small finishes:


Prairie House Sewing Case by Blackbird Designs 
Comme un Oiseau by TraLaLa

Bluebird (stitched with CC Cupid) by Blackbird Designs
One week left before Christmas! I always feel the "noise" around this time of year and get very distracted. Stitching these smalls were good to keep my fingers busy and also get quick hits of satisfaction! 

Hope you get a bit of time to kick back and stitch! Thanks for visiting! Have a great week!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Thank you, Andrea!

I knew I had forgotten something after I pushed the Publish button on my last post but what? Then it hit me, I forgot to mention the lovely RAK I received from the wonderfully talented Andrea of The Craft Room! Me bad. 
 
Here is the pretty treasure, front and back!

The workmanship is so neat and beautiful!  I love it - thank you so much Andrea! 

My next project? Well, I started on LDD's Margaret Cottam but found the WDW Cocoa linen too dark for the Schneckly floss, and my eyes too! So I put that aside and found something much lighter. This is Prairie House from Blackbird Designs' "A Stitcher's Journey" book.  
Given the state of my current attention span (very little) this is a good size project for me during the Christmas prep season! 

Here's where my Christmas stitching are hanging out waiting for some type of finishing! 
Baking is on my mind (and now too much in my tummy!) lately. I finished baking these yesterday afternoon.  If the boxes are looking empty that's because I've started to give them away. I took a bunch over to my brother's and my parents today. I figured why not have people enjoy some now rather than give them a glut of them later when they are stuffed to their gills by Christmas time! (Yes, contribute to stuffing them now rather than later! Claim your space in their tummies!)
It seems like it's been a long time since I've done so much baking. I am also tweaking recipes too trying to (1) use some other flour like spelt in addition to the white, and (2) lower the sugar. It's a bit hit and miss but these are really good. In case you are wondering, clockwise starting from left - Coconut Cranberry Ginger, Neapolitan, Fruit and Nut cookies.  Next week I will do more chocolate cookies as per my son's request!

This morning we thought we would do a quick trip to Costco, thinking a Friday morning would be ok. Wrong-o! Could not find parking! So we thought we would try another Costco - ditto. So, rather than fight the circling sharks cars in the parking lot, we headed home. Because if it's bad outside, it's going to be a ZOO inside! Traffic in general was a lot heavier than normal. I guess the Christmas rush is really on now! I don't like crowds. 

I also have been feeling a bit tired and fighting a sore throat so I thought it would be best to head home and ...face the tins of cookies with a cuppa tea! lol.

Weekend is here - have a good one! Thanks for stopping by! 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Santa's Coming!

Down the chimney he will go. Have you been good girls and boys? What's on your wishlist?  Do tell!

I don't have much on my list but this is something new (to me) this year -  I would love to have the Millennium stitching frame. Since Nicola showed this on the Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year blog, it has become a very popular frame as I've seen it on many of your blogs!  One can dream...

Meanwhile, here comes the Santa's sampler by Prairie Schooler (book no 73). 



I stitched this on 30 count WDW Parchment linen using DMC floss plus I added a few floss out of my stash just to "spice it up"! The flowers, for example, are stitched with CC Wild Berries.  I so love this sampler!

Now I want to share with you a recent charity shop find - a teacup and saucer called "Spode's Tower". I just love the colours... 
But most of all, I love the design on the inside of the teacup! That floral band is so pretty! Yes, I only got one. Now I want to find something similar, but a different pattern, in blue! 
I've been showing quite a few Daisy photos so here is equal time for Julius. I saw him this morning with his tail twitching madly as he watched the world outside. Must be the birds. 

We were a bit worried about him a week ago as he was throwing up his food for a couple of days but fortunately, it has passed and he is as much a crazy cat as ever. He likes to play these games of 'tag', whether with Daisy or an imaginary friend! Sometimes it sounds like a stampede here - it's very funny.

Lastly, I want to thank you (again) for all your kind words from last week. It means a lot to me. This has not been a kind year and I don't mean that as self-pity but that it hasn't been kind to a lot of people. I found out another friend (my GF's husband) has cancer and it's inoperable. I found out another couple of friends (we've lost touch) from years ago are both ill. Yikes. It just makes me very introspective about a lot of things in my life. 

Anyway, enough of that. It's time for me to start baking Christmas cookies and it will start this afternoon. As I am not working, my efforts should be much better than previous years! Let's all hope so! 

Thanks for stopping by. Be careful out there when you're shopping - I've seen tempers frayed already on the streets! 

Have a great week! 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Red, white, green & gold

Recently I've been feeling very blah. I think I've mentioned that. Partly it's the Fall weather that makes our bodies slow down I think. The other part is all the "life issues" abound for me right now. So it was a delight to see Lee, of Lake Stitcher fame, posting again.

 You can go there now and read all her great posts, including why many of us may have stopped writing to our blogs. I wasn't quite there yet but was close to taking a blogging break! 

But I'm here today and today I have some stitching to share! Here comes the picture show...

This is "Merry Merry" by Birds of a Feather. I did not stitch the border as I wanted to finish it as a "small", maybe a pinkeep.  I stitched this on 30 count WDW Straw linen.


I did not use the metallic gold floss. I didn't like it so I used WDW Amber. For the "merry Christmas" words in the lower right, I used one strand of Amber and one strand of the Chestnut used for the tree trunks, just for a different effect. I love Santa's smile!

The following is "Dashing" by Birds of a Feather.  


The chart called for little beads to be stitched on for snow but I wanted something bigger so stitched in snowflakes instead. This was stitched on 30 count WDW Parchment. 

This morning I will have to see what I will stitch next. I was going to stitch another BOAF but I may take a break and stitch something different.  

I don't know why but Daisy has been very obliging to the camera of late.  She's saying "I'm a good girl, aren't I mom?" This is because Julius was a very bad cat yesterday and ate part of my baking! No matter what I try to keep him away from people food, somehow in some measure of time, he will find his way when my defences are down! Grrr. He was in the dog house (so to speak) yesterday and he knew it as he hid most of the evening yesterday!

That's me and my words and photos for another post. I have not given up entirely but may be less frequent with posting. I want to thank you for visiting but I also want to thank you for those of you who keep posting to your blogs! 

Take care and have a great week!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Visited by the Ghost of Goldilocks

Thank you for all your comments about my last finish, Manor at Peacock Hill. It was interesting to hear your comments about the drastic change in dye lots lately with the Gentle Arts floss. Funny enough I got proof of it with a project I just finished a few days ago but more in a minute. 

The ghost of Goldilocks visited me after the finish of Manor at Peacock Hill. I could not settle into a project but thrashed around like a fiend - this one was too big and unwieldy, or I didn't like the floss colour of this one, or I didn't like the linen and on and on it went! It was pure Goldilocks and I sat pouting for awhile growling grumbling to myself.  Usually when this happens it's a reflection of something unsettling me in real life and this was the case.

I took a couple of days off stitching then decided to do a change of scenery and stitch some smaller pieces. That seemed to have helped!

Here's the first one - Wild Garden by Blackbird Designs. This was a full kit from last year, I think. This is where I encountered Otter Creek and it was a deep turquoisey-blue! That would've been great for the peacock! 



Then I pulled out an old one from the WIP pile where I had started that little bird on the bottom left. Can you guess what this is? 
The snowman "thimble" was something I purchased probably 20 years ago when we used to be able to buy precious handmade ornaments easily. 
I just love this snowman. This design is Winter Holiday from Birds of a Feather. What a fun stitch. I want to do more BOAF designs now!

I am in the mood for stitching Christmasy things now! How about you?

Daisy says stitch what you like, just let me snuggle down in my new box!  
Thanks for visiting! Have a great week!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Winner of Giveaway #3 is...

Terri of Rosy Stitches - Congratulations! 

Thanks to everyone for checking out the giveaways. There will be another one in November and I am sure this will be another popular one.

Today - shortest post ever as I pulled a muscle in my right low back/hip area yesterday. Ouch. Hopefully this will go away in a couple of days. I don't usually get these. If anyone has any tips let me know. I can still move around but I am hobbling a bit. 

TTFN (Ta-Ta-for-now). 
 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Thankful

It's a beautiful long weekend here and we are celebrating Thanksgiving. There are many things I am thankful for. I will start with a finish!

This is Manor at Peacock Hill by With thy Needle and Thread:




I took these photos, as I usually do, with the linen on the dining room table. I usually turn on the light but as this was late afternoon, the sun streamed in and I thought I would try this natural effect. What do you think? Are these clear enough to see? 

Anyway, I am so glad I got this one done. I was pretty grumbly with this piece. The bird is NOT blue! This is what happens with dye lots, things photographed showing colours differently, etc. As you know I am fond of substituting colours but I was tired out from doing so with the two reproduction samplers I did this summer and I just didn't have any more energy to substitute colours. You can see the difference in the photo below. 

The colour on the chart for the bird seems more like a peacock blue, very rich and regal. The colour of Otter Creek, used for the head and tail, is more of a mossy forest green. The highlight is Mountain Mist. So if you want to stitch this and want a blue bird you may want to check the colour of the floss you've got in your hands! 

Anyway, it's finished and I'm so Happy! 

Another happy, read this post about Hal Lasko, the Pixel Painter and definitely watch the video! It will put a smile on your face!

Now I am off to cook a little bird for dinner (gee, doesn't that sound terrible?)

Remember to check my previous post for the last giveaway for October.  Thanks for stopping by!