Sunday, January 30, 2011

Challenge Progress Jan 30

Before Hailey arrived and during her nap, I was able to do a bit of stitching - I've got some ornament finishes to do for the little pieces I finished while away, but my bag of Challenge projects was calling to me, so I pulled out the Spirit of Life blackwork piece I am donating to our UU congregation's auction in March.  This is the only one that seriously has a deadline, so I will be returning to this frequently until it's finished.  If today is any indicator, that isn't likely to take that long.

What's Cookin' This Week: 1/31 - 2/6

Well... Michael and I made the trip back yesterday - and within minutes, Daughter #1 and her boyfriend were there...and Daughter #2 and her family were there and it was a very loud and boisterous homecoming!  As I was debating what to feed the seven people under my roof, a call when out for pizza, a collection was rounded up, and I was off the hook.

Short notice but today, I had Hailey (18 months) over to babysit all day... so not a lot of time settling in, and my good bye to Michael as he headed back home was distracted somewhat.  Kind of a sad day (always is when we have to be apart again), except I've been doing too much toddler-chasing to really deal with it.

Dinner tonight is a frozen lasagna - yay for no effort meals!

Here's my plan for this next week - my focus is on some serious cleaning and decluttering.  And for dinner:

Monday Jan 31
Chicken Taco Salad

Tuesday Feb 1
Meatball Subs

Wednesday Feb 2 (Imbolc)
Oatmeal Scones and Jam for Breakfast

Pork, Cabbage, Potato and Apple Saute

Thursday Feb 3
Cook's Day Off - Leftovers

Friday Feb 4
Herbed Chicken
Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash

Saturday Feb 5
Slow Cooker Japanese Style Beef Curry Rice (from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker)

Sunday Feb 6
Chicken Salad (from leftover chicken)
Fruit Platter

(Shared with Menu Plan Monday)

Friday, January 28, 2011

A few stitching finishes

So, when I came out here, I thought I'd be here for one pretty busy week - I brought a little thread, a bit of fabric, and figured I'd have time to make one biscornu.  (and at that, I forgot to bring any stuffing so I couldn't completely finish it.  Here's both sides of it - pale blue and pink variegated floss, as wintery January theoretically moves into romantic February.

On consideration, I really should have taken the photos before I started stitching them together.  Organized as ever!

Once I'm back home, I'll stuff this and finish it up. I've decided to make a biscornu for every trip to DC I  make this year.

Fortunately for me, we made that trip out to a needlework shop, so I was able to pad my available supplies to keep me stitching through this past week.  I tried to take pictures of my new needlework stash, but they just didn't come out, so I'll just tell you... I picked out about 8 skeins of floss from various overdyed floss companies.  I wanted to see how I like them before I commit to any online purchases, and I just can't find them in WV anywhere nearby.    I got a couple of Weeks, some Crescent, and Threadworx.  I like them all... but I'm really enamored of the Threadworx floss!

I also got a bit of fabric - hard to choose, and on a budget, I wound up with some pink hand dyed 30ct linen, and have been using that to make a few ornament sized items - I wanted at least one Christmas ornament and one Valentine ornament done before the end of the month and got that done and more.

One of the stores I visited at had a $10.00 graph grab bag available, and I couldn't resist the surprise element so I got one.  There are three graphs I want to stitch, and about 4 I'm not so excited by - but I more than got my money's worth - and I think sometime soon, I'll make the ones I don't plan to do available as a giveaway here, along with some of my other graph stash that needs to be weeded out.  So stay tuned for that!

Meanwhile, here's the rest of my stitching this week:

I'm not quite finished with this Quaker heart for Valentines - I started filling the single squares with white to give it a bit more contrast and have to finish that.  This will be turned into an ornament for my February tree.

This next one is the freebie graph I created for Imbolc - a Brigid's cross I'll turn into an ornament to also hang on the tree - I changed the colors (yes, on my own design I alter the instructions!) to try one of the overdyed flosses I purchased.  I wasn't sure how I'd like it on pink, but once the backstitch was done, it had some nice depth to it.

Again, playing with my new floss, I did up a Celtic knot with heart shapes.. thinking it would be for valentines, but with the red/gold/green color scheme, it really is more Christmasy, isn't it?  I went around the edges with white, and that really brightened this up far more than it seems in the picture.

Finally, just for myself, and I'm not sure what it's for...Christmas, Valentine's Day, spring in general? Actually because of the coloring, it's likely to go toward my little collection of peacock items and will find its way on the tree in June (barring actually being packed up and moving then).  This is one of the Threadworx flosses and it is so bright and cheerful up against the pink linen. I think this was my favorite bit of stitchery this week.

Next week, I'll be getting back to my challenge items.. at least a little though most of the week is going to be taken up with getting my bearings and dealing with various little crises that have occurred while I'm away.

I'm looking forward to seeing my daughter and cat, and having access to my own kitchen supplies. But other than that, I'd really much rather fast forward a few months until being here just means I'm at home.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another bit of catch up

There will be a stitching catch up today, along with a recipe or two - so this is just the general chatter of what's been going on the last few days.

When I thought I'd only be able to be here during the week last week, I decided it wasn't a great time to try to squeeze in a visit with my daughter - Michael doesn't get home from work until after 7pm, and she lives about 45 minutes away - on a school night, that means it's mainly just disruptive of the girls' bedtimes, and since she and her husband just had a baby, disrupting schedules is very unkind.

But I let her know about the extended time, and we were invited to dinner on Saturday.  Our plans for Saturday included getting out and about - Michael offered to take me to go explore a couple needlework shops more-or-less in the area (he is a very good guy, in case you didn't already figure that out), so we spent the day with me happily wandering through a couple shops (details in another post once I take a couple pictures), and spending some time in a second hand bookstore we stumpled upon along the way.

We also went out to lunch at Gordon Biersch - mind you, their food is good and they are highly praised for their garlic fries, but what always draws me to them is their Tapas Platter - I could very happily make a meal of this.  Toasted Bread served with a mound each of hummus, caramelized roasted garlic, olive tapenade, and tomato bruschetta.  I'm getting hungry all over again just picturing it.  There is nothing exotic about any of it... it could so easily be accomplished at home, and by golly, I think I'm going to have to do just that and have an appetizer dinner sometime soon.

So... I bought a bit of stash, and we headed back home to let Sadie Beagle have some attention, and then headed down to my daughter's house - her husband made broiled steaks and baked potatoes, so I wound up eating way too much that day, but all so good that I didn't care.  We played board games - there was a drawing game that is sort of like 'telephone' that was a whole lot of fun but I don't remember the name of it!

I'll be getting in one more visit - they're going to pick me up mid afternoon on Thursday, and Michael can come on down after he gets off work.  That way I can get in some good visiting time with the grandkids. Yay!

Sunday Michael and I quite literally slobbed out on the couch all day doing nothing, but watching an entire season of Sons of Anarchy.

Yesterday was the official reason for this trip - off to see my doctor.  Or, my new doctor as my regular one is gone now.  I'm never thrilled about a new rheumatologist - the visit is never all that productive, just 'this is me, this is my symptoms, no it's not like that for me, it's like this..." and then asked "any questions" and the answer - invariably, no matter what the question is, is, "Hard to say since this is the first time I've seen you... we'll just have to monitor awhile and see how things go."  Yes, doc... been doing that since before you were born, thanks.

He seems nice. I don't trust he's going to be around long enough to worry much about developing a relationship with him. my labs done, got my meds.

I am highly bored with chronic illness - that's probably a good thing, means I'm not in CRISIS with it, right?  But there is exactly one thing new that I've not been dealing with for three decades and that's the RA deformity in my hands.  Each hand bows out to toward the pinkie fingers, and that creates a lot of pressure-pain at the point where the pinkie connects to the palm.  I also get the hand bones in the palm all snarly and need to massage them carefully to unlock the tangled mess hopefully without too much damage.  I've now asked three doctors how should I be dealing with this? What can be done to minimize the pain and damage (I am aware there deformity cannot be undone, and that the biologics I take are intended to slow down the progression... but how do I deal with the reality of what IS happening?)   I've not gotten a single answer to this - in fact, the looks I get make me think they've never even heard the question before.  Come on, I'm not the first RA patient ever to develop deformities... is there really no path at all to treat and sooth the impact of having hands that are badly mangled?

Of course, the answer is - I'm sure - something that costs nothing to treat... light massage, heat maybe.  Things that no one will get rich researching or creating a pill for.  But it's still impossible to me that doctors in this speciality wouldn't even be able to address non-for profit treatments to make their patients more comfortable.


After the appointment, the day got much nicer - Michael surprised me me with a trip to the Easy Spirit shoe store and bought me boots!  I'd mentioned awhile ago that I'd noticed styles were making flat boots easily available and I wanted a pair before it was all back to spike heels and I wouldn't be able to get any.  They're black leather and suede, knee high, with a low 1/2" heel that gives just lift to not feel like I'm wearing gramma shoes, while still being flat enough to not make me risk falling over.  And I can wear them with skirts or pants... or SKIRTS - and look nice, not like I forgot to take off my granny shoes before I went out in public.

Boots make me very very happy - and so does Michael. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week: 1/23- 1/30

It's been a busy couple days, but Michael and I just got home from a morning of errands, and the rest of the week should be pretty quiet.  I'll do a nice long catch up post then.. but for now, we actually did menu plan (it's contagious!), and so I'm posting it:

Sunday Jan 23
Baked Salmon
Brown Rice
Roasted Asparagus
Spinach Salad

Monday Jan 24
Dinner Salad with Broiled Chicken Slices
(romaine, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, carrots, black olives, feta, chicken)

Tuesday Jan 25
Burgundy Beef Stew with Mushrooms
Garlic Bread

Wednesday Jan 26
Turkish Chicken
Couscous Pilaf

Thursday Jan 27
Dinner at my daughter's house (Lasagna)

Friday Jan 28
Travel night - bagged sandwiches on the road

Saturday Jan 29 (home again)
Pork Chops and Cabbage
Roasted Potatoes
Fruit Salad

Sunday Jan 30
Chicken Curry Rice
Flat Bread

(shared with Menu Plan Monday)

Friday, January 21, 2011


I thought I'd be headed back home today, but some last minute rescheduling on the part of my doctor is going to keep me here for another week.  It would have been better to have been able to plan for it, but it's mostly a good thing - the reschedule means I get to actually SEE my doctor rather than just dealing with labs and medication refills, and it's overdue... the RA dept at the military facility where I go is getting way over-extended.  I've gone there for other a decade, but I'm not going to be surprised when it finally closes down for lack of having any doctors to work the clinic.

And it is of course lovely to get to spend more time here with Michael - it lets me schedule some time to also go see my oldest daughter and my grandchildren... it's a fairly hefty drive (about 45 minutes away), but with more free time, it's possible.

The down side?  Youngest daughter is left to stay with friends for an additional week, and I feel 'off'' not being with her - no idea if she feels the same.  She's at a stage when she prefers time away from mom, but at the same time wants mom around and on call.  This means another week of needing my other daughter and son-in-law to make daily trips to the house to look after the cat, and knowing she's not getting enough face-time and lap-time to keep her happy.  It means things I intended to get done this next week...won't. It means the bit of cross stitch I brought for one week will be done, and I really should have brought one of my Jan 15 Challenge projects with me after all.

Mostly, I'm realizing I'm almost perfectly balanced between worlds at this point - home is there... and home is here as well.  And neither place has all the people or things that add up to 'home' so I always am longing to be elsewhere - always at home and never at home.

Less than half a year of this to go, and then I'll be here for good - and the serious work of missing my child and empty-nesting can begin in earnest!

As far as this week has gone - we did pack in a few nice outings - went to see Peter Mayer play (and he puts on a very fun show), went out to play poker - my first time, and I held my own pretty well, and last night over to a good friend's for sushi and movies.  This next week is likely to be a bit quieter.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quick Note

It never fails - every trip away from home, I get one email that I really need to answer but can't because I can get email in but I'm not able to send out (I need to get web-based email to work around that, but I hate it and avoid it).

So while I can't reply, you know who you are - know my thoughts are with you and yours and as long as those around us add  their strength to ours when we can't find our own, we can stand together so that no one need feel alone.  The bravery to do what one is afraid to do amazes me.  Blessings to each of you.

A is for Alone


Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
'Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone. 

~ Maya Angelou

(Shared as a part of ABC Wednesday, Round 8)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rosa Mexicana

Hey all... just popping in briefly to share a fabulous lunch Michael and I had yesterday at Rosa Mexicana down at the National Harbor (a new and quickly growing hotel/restaurant/boutique shopping area about a mile from his house).  We keep saying we'll try different restaurants there...and keep heading back to Rosa Mexicana because the food is just that good.

First up - always - is their guacamole, made fresh at the table in a stone mortar and pestle 'pig' - big chunks of fresh avocado, diced tomato onion... well, here - they have the recipe on their site (and they sell the pigs - my daughter has one and they're wonderful!  Eventually I'll have one too).  I don't actually have a picture for you... we ate it too fast! 

For my main entree, I chose the Mole Xico - a beef enchilada smothered in a dark, rich mole sauce.  Mole is one of those things I don't think I'll ever try making at home, so it's very hard to resist trying it whenever it's offered - Rosa Mexicana's mole is, not terribly hot but very flavorful, and the beef was melt in your mouth tender.

This is one of several things I love about coming to DC and I know we'll return there many times more.  Not only because of the great food and pretty view of the harbor but because the service staff is always friendly and helpful and seem to be greatly enjoying their job.  I always feel well fed and pampered when I'm there.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 15 (one day early)

Well this just looks like a whole lotta nothing, doesn't it? (and ew, a hair, how nice)  This is the very top bit of a stone angel's forehead - my own design, yet another Dr. Who motif, this will be a stone angel, hands over eyes, with the caption "Don't Blink" - and will only make sense to Dr. Who fans.

Because it is a solid block of stitchery with a whole lot of color switches, I'm doing it in small blocks to avoid the inevitable miscounting.  I hope.

Next time I pick it up, I'll try to get through enough to see how it'll look when it's finished.

For now though.... I am finished with my January 15 Challenge, and have a whole lot of projects to work on.  I think I made it through with a nice level of variety.  I don't know that I'll get everything finished by the end of the year, but I do think a good bit of it will be, and I also have plans for a few small projects along the way as well.

My full goal - dependent on my hands' level of mobility mainly, is to work through these larger projects and additionally to make one Christmas ornament each month and one ornament appropriate to the current season.  Finally, these trips I take are regular enough that I'm going to make a biscornu for each.  A small square is just the right size for stitching in the car - one going out, the other side coming back.  For this next trip, I'm going to do one with a heart motif.

Crazy January Challenge - Day 14

No, I didn't do all this stitching by noon!  I worked a bit on this last night.  Later this afternoon, I'll be starting my final day's challenge so I needn't worry about it tomorrow, when I'm traveling. (I have other stitching plans for the trip)

This little gem is from The Gift of Stitching, July - Aug 2006.  It was a two part 'mystery sampler' composed of two tiles inside this border.  The entire thing is worked with two shades of floss - in my case, DMC variegated blue and variegated red, and I'm using 16ct Charles Craft Aida in 'Smoketone'.

I'm debating making this one into a pillow as well...perhaps a neckroll?  I'll decide later - it's a fast, pleasant stitch.

Astrology's 5 minutes of Stupid Pop Culture Fame

I've checked in on various news shows a few times over the last few days - mostly seeking weather info, but also just to keep track of what's going on in the world (it's a fine line between pseudo-news glut, and having things like a massive natural disaster happen and not finding out for two days). 

Each time I've checked in for just a few minutes - and each time the same highly annoying bit of 'news' is presented - some astronomer suddenly realized the universe is not stationary, and decides to declare astrology WRONG.  And then no doubt dislocated his shoulder giving himself pats of the back while hollering 'BURN!!" Kelso style.

This is not news.  The Astrology cops are not now going to change your sun sign (nor is any real astrological information confined to your sun sign, but that's a different subject).  THIS ISN'T NEWS, ok?  And it reflects a real lack of comprehension about how astrological charts are calculated and a condescending assumption of ignorance of astronomy by those who study astrology.  (The boy wonder that stirred this up is apparently also unaware that the roots of his field of study came by way of astrology - in order to interpret the stars, you kinda have to have a good understanding of where they are.)

I'm no astrologer, but I do get tired of the irrelevent and pointless getting passed off as news, and very very tired of the idiotic opinions of the misinformed getting this much attention.  Here's a good explanation of what's wrong with this so-called news story, and I plan to just pass it out everytime I hear another person wringing their hands and saying "But I don't WANNA be a Pisces!!"

I think Zha Zha threw up on my year 'round tree...

Deana had a snow day yesterday, and her boyfriend came over - so I immediately drafted the two of them to help me finally get down all the Christmas decor.  It'd be languishing while I dealt with being sick, achy and just plain too worn out to care.

Between the three of us, it was all taken down and stored away inside of a couple hours, and I moved my year 'round tree back to its corner so we'd all stop running into it on the way to the dining room.

Now, normally, it'd go blue for January - lots of white snowflakes, and blue, lavender and white ball ornaments in various shades.  But we're half way through the month and I'm about to be gone for a week, so it seemed a bit pointless.  Deanna asked if she could decorate it for Valentine's Day and when I said yes, she ran to her room and came out with a couple feather boas, a stuffed toy mouse, and a pink tutu topped with pink leopard print.... hmmm....

Here's the result - the tutu became a tree skirt, the feather boas were draped in the tree along with white and red beads held out from the Christmas stash.   Snowflakes - white, silver, gold, and light pink, also held out of the Christmas supplies add to the Gabor-like sparkle.

The remaining ornaments are a set of red heart glass ornaments I picked up last year and some homemade pink and brown hearts we made a couple years back.

The pink and brown hearts started out life as coasters - part of a wedding supply party set, I think?  I had left them out on a table along with various supplies... markers, scissors and old magazines, stitckers, and just asked everyone to make a heart or two for the tree.  I think I like the magazine collage hearts the best!

Over on the mantle, we left out Deanna's little pink and sparkly tree and added a few more of the glass heart ornaments (and her Barbie shoe ornament because it's pink).  The pink fairy and pink champagne gel candle are also hers.

Valentine's Day is really very much her holiday and we are living in a very pink world right now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 13

I'm posting this early because I'm probably not going to be doing too much with it - my hands are very tired, and I need to put them to use cleaning house.

This is the wizard from a kit I had, where I'd lost the graph (and threads) and couldn't really identify which company it was from.  Someone here ID'd the kit for me and then a friend of mine remembered seeing it hung in another friend's home - and that friend was willing to lend me her graph.

All I have left to do is a bit of that background mist (worked in half crosses), and some backstitch here and there - and it's going to take some close examination to find where I've already backstitched, and where I haven't, and to try to figure out what color to use, since I don't have the kitted threads (and no, the chart is listing colors, not DMC codes).  

So it's easy work but frustrating, and more than I really want to deal with today.  I laid in three twinkly stars in the mist, and I'm calling it done for today.  I will return to it shortly and get it finished, since it's very close to done now.  I'm thinking it would do best turned into a pillow rather than framed... it has sat in the rollers for so long, that there are bits of the black Aida that are a little worn.  I think this whole project is a lesson in what baddness occurs when you neglect your WIPs!

Great Deal on Reams of Hammermill Paper

I saw this on Frugality is Free and had to go check it out for myself.  And it is, and my order went through!  Amazon is offering 10, count 'em, 10 reams of white Hammermill paper for $6.07 and no shipping. !!!  I'm currently babying a short stack of paper I borrowed from my son in law until I get out to buy more of my, click, send - lots and lots of paper will be on its way to me soon, for about the same price I'd have paid for one ream. woo hoo!

Update:  Sadly, this was too good to be true.  I just received this email:

"Please be advised due to a mapping issue on 
Amazon we have encountered a unit of measure 
issue with the item you ordered. 
The item was incorrectly listed as ten reams 
when the item is actually being sold as a 
ream. Regretfully we have canceled your order 
or this item. 
We sincerely apologize for this error and we 
ensure you that all measures will be taken 
to prevent issues like this from arising 
Thank you for your understanding."
Ah well....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 12

Snow day today and tomorrow too - today I was pretty close to useless... took a half a day to unstiffen enough to lift my arms over my head.  Hoping that passes fast.

I stitched a tiny bit - blackwork works up quickly, so it looks like more than it is - I want to come back to this one soon, and be able to work on it more without pain.

You can't tell what it's going to be yet - it's a 5 x 7 project, and will be a UU flaming chalice - the saying at the top is a short bit from a popular UU hymn and says "Spirit of Life, come unto me".  This is my own design, and the finished sampler is going to a donation to the UU church I attend when I'm out in Maryland.  They hold an annual auction to help raise funds to keep the congregation funded, and I'm hoping this will be a desireable auction piece.  I'm not sure when it is this year - sometime in the spring, so I'll be coming back to this soon.

That's all I'm going to say today - my fingertips hurt!  Go away, winter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 11

Challenging challenge day today - first, I had a whole lot of drop-ins, so I was more about playing hostess than stitching.  Secondly - I went to work on this WIP, and realized I've misplaced half the chart.  I have a good idea where it is, but I had no time to go hunt. 

Fortunately, the half I did have began just next to where I'd left off, so it was easy enough to work on it anyway.

This is all whole cross stitches or half stitches, along with backstitch and french knots.  The kit is on 14ct navy blue Aida and the threads are (maddeningly) unlabeled as to brand, so if I misplace or run out of any, I'm sunk.   But it's a fun bit of stitchery.  Today, I worked just a little bit on the wheel around the sun and on the constellation Libra.  Long way to go, yet!

Brigid's Cross - a Cross Stitch Freebie for Imbolc

Before too much time passes, I want to take note of the upcoming next turn of the Wheel - Imbolc, Oimelc, St. Brigid's Day, Groundhog's Day....  Feb. 2 is yet another date that shares holiday time with cultures and eras around the world and across time.

Brigit - a Celtic goddess that was revered not only in Celtic cultures, but also by many in the Roman territories, is a complex figure.  She is goddess of the hearth, of the fires of coming spring, of midwifery, and metalworking and poetry.  For me that all comes together as creative passion and energy, especially that of women... especially that creative passion exercised in domestic life.

This time of year, domestic animals become pregnant and Brigit is connected to ewes (Oimelc means 'ewe's milk, while Imbolc means 'in the belly') and with cows as givers of milk.  She's also connected to snakes and to animals that hibernate.

Perhaps more so than any other pagan deity, Brigid has been incorporated into Christian legend in such a complete way that it is no longer clear which legends began as pagan myth, and which began as Christian saint stories - the cross pollination of storytelling has flowed back and forth for centuries.. and really, isn't that just right for a Celtic goddess who is connected to the Bardic power of story and poetry?

For Christians, Brigit was the midwife to Mary, and February 2 was also the day Mary had completed her 40 day of being 'unclean' following Jesus' birth, and went to present him to the temple.  For pagans, Brigid is midwife to all of nature and her holy day shows the first real stirrings of spring since the Sun was born at Solstice.

Brigid's Cross is one of those symbols that began as a sun symbol - a sunwheel... crossed into Christian custom and associated with St. Brigit, and then was treated in a very pagan manner (and likely stemming from older, existing customs), where it was hung near the doorway of homes for protection and good fortune.  It was generally made of rushes or straw brought in and saved at the end of the previous harvest, and the older cross was either burned in the hearth or broken up and tilled into the soil for the next year's crop.

I've decided I'm going to do a small ornament-sized free chart for each turn of the Wheel, and I wanted to get this up early enough to be usable.  I find there is a shortage of pagan cross stitch graphs, and would like to do my part to expand the available choices.  If you do one, please comment back here and share your result!  Happy Imbolc!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 10

Nothing more than a token showing today - I stitched a tiny bit in the corner, but my hands are just plain not happy today, and there's no point in forcing it.

This is a pamphlet I've had for years - Country Gallery, by Graphs by Barbara & Cheryl, Inc. (1987).  I'm doing it on 32ct white linen over two, and it'll take a good while to get it finished, but there's nothing difficult about it other than getting the count right on the framework.

(I already spent a few minutes undoing stitches when I realized I got the box one square too small.)

This will be easy, enjoyable, long term - and won't it look cheery once it's done and framed?

Crazy January Challenge - Day 9

Brrr!  It's in the low single digits outside and doesn't feel a whole lot warmer inside.  I am stiiiiifffff and creaky this morning, so I'm going to get this posted and then wrap my hands in something warm for a bit.

This is a brown perforated paper gingerbread house - it'll be 3-D when it's finished, and I started it an embarrassingly long time ago.   I think my stopping point came when the holiday season went, and then it just never got picked up again.   I really like it - the colors just pop off the brown paper.

The house is composed of two sections like this, which get folded where the walls meet.  They're attached together to form a cube, and then a wall piece is folded over the top.  There's also a chimney section and some attachable items like candy cane posts.

I got a a good way through the second wall yesterday - quite a was to go yet, but I'll have a nice little shelf ornament for next year once this is finished.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week: 1/9 - 1/16

Still struggling with illness, but I need to get back to cooking, like it or not, so here's my plan for the week:

Monday Jan 10
Taco Salad

Tuesday Jan 11

Pasta and Meatballs
Garlic Toast (made with leftover hamburger buns)

Wednesday Jan 12
Potato and Egg Tortilla
Sausage Balls (yes, I'm going to try them again)

Thursday Jan 13
Baked Mac and Cheese with Franks

Friday Jan 14
Slow Cooker Chili

Saturday Jan 15
Travel Day - TBD

Sunday Jan 16

Crazy January Challenge - Day 8

Yesterday's challenge project was the Quaker sampler freebie available at gazette94.  I have tried and tried and failed to get any sort of decent picture of this - it's on 28ct light blue linen, and I'm using DMC variations - a few shades - and the combination is a colorful pastel effect that seems to be impossible to photograph.

I was able to get the center motif finished, and got about 3/4s of the way throught he half-medallion beneath it. 

This is one that is simply pleasant to stitch, and it was fed on a diet of old movies ranging from "Love in the Afternoon" to "Paint Your Wagon".   For a good portion of the day, it was snowing heavily, and it seemed like a very good day to cuddle up under a blanket with some hot chocolate, stitchery, and old movies.

It's still snowing today, off and on, but I've got some householdy things to do.  Today's project will be a WIP, and may just be a token effort.

And - a full entry forthcoming after I take some pictures, but I got a fabulous package yesterday from Aine at The Deepest Well that I can't wait to share with you! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 7

Posted a day late, because the death plague turned into a cold, which has now become a miserable cold with coughing fits and tons of congestion.. and I fell asleep and stayed that way a whole lot.  Yay for sleeping, it passes the time. 

I did do a bit of stitching but it was somewhat half hearted - due to the cold, not the project.  This is a Jan-Lynn kit, "Dolphins" and is probably the biggest WIP I had next to the growth chart.  This is where it had been left off.  This is just the center section of the piece.. there is also a large shell motif frame that goes around this, so that the total finished size will be 15 x 15, and nearly all of that covered in stitches.

My instinct is to think I may not get it completed this year - but it seems a bit defeatist to decide that 8 days into the new year, doesn't it?  So we'll see! 

The right time to stitch this is when I am listening to something, not trying to watch - because it's nearly all shades of blue, and there is a lot of counting required to keep the stitches lined up.  I like that the colors are peaceful and the level of complexity requires attention but not frustration (it's all whole stitches)... this is a good chart to work on when needing a break from worry and stress.  My brain was a bit too foggy for it, so I didn't make huge inroads on it, but I can see when I would want to work on it.

Does anyone else do that - choose projects to work on at any time according to their specific traits and impact on one's mood or circumstances?   So far, I am able to see exactly why I left off every WIP...what the catch was, and it seems it has to do mainly with trying to plod on regardless of inappropriate timing.  I think that may be the brilliance of this Jan 15 Challenge - there will be a variety to work on, so when one is 'wrong' for right now, another won't be, and those that aren't being worked on aren't abandoned due to frustration, but because it is simply not their time at the moment.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 6

Today's challenge project start has been simple, colorful and a blessing - this is the beginning (actually nearly a third of the entire thing) of The Stitcherhood's Forest Friends.  There are going to be a couple of simple but really important alterations to this one (yes, if you think it's impossible for me to just ever stitch anything as designed, you are very close to right).

What drew me to this chart - and do go look at the original if you're not familiar with it - is the obvious-to-me Maiden-Mother-Crone goddess imagery.  The night sky, the lunar phases on the three women, and the hair colors... but maybe that's not what was intended.

It also reminds me a lot of the RWS 3 of Cups, and the title of the chart, "Forest Friends" points that way as well, as the 3 of Cups often signifies celebrations and friendships - especially those among women.

I like both intentions, and this piece will easily encompass each of them - but today, it was the goddess and that forged link beween Maiden and Mother and Crone that I most needed.  Last night had been difficult - teenaged daughter stuff that had me so worried for her and unable to do a think but sit by her until she was through her personal midnight.  Today was better, but still... with each stitch, I was shooting wishes for peace, and happiness and wisdom at her.

...  and realized that this first Lady I was stitching was the Crone... but if you look at the original chart, things aren't quite 'right' from that standpoint (please don't get me wrong - compositionally, it's lovely... but if I'd done it 'as is' this would have bothered me everytime I saw it).  First I needed the moons to be 'right' - waxing to full to waning, not the reverse.  Yes it's a circle -but if you're familiar with this symbol, you'll see why this would have been an issue for me.  And that meant that the Ladies needed to be paired to their correct phase of the moon - so that the light haired Maiden is linked to the Waxing Crescent, the red haired Mother is in the center at the Full Moon, and the grey haired Crone is with the Waning Crescent.

(Actually - I believe the intention was that the center Lady signify the DARK Moon, which would make sense to go Waning-Dark-Waxing, with the Crone to the middle.  But I promise you, I'd never have instinctively viewed it that way, so I'd have to consciously fight my urge to 'correct' and that's just all the wrong attitude to have to something you want to 'speak' to you symbolically.)

So today, that only took a quick flip of the moon, and a change of hair color.   The only other change is that the Maiden, rather than having the symmetrical purple robe pairing with the Crone, the Maiden will be wearing a pale seafoam gown.

I don't think this is necessarily any improvement on the artist's handiwork, which I love very much - it is simple what will make sense to me.  After the focused intent put into this today, this is clearly going to be an altar piece for me, and it needs to work in that context.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 5

I think today is the first day I really latched into what I was doing.  Like... humming happily as I threaded needles, frequently thinking, "oooh, I really like this" and feeling a bit sad that I'm going to need to put it away for a bit to focus on the other projects in my challenge.

This is a hybrid new start/restart - it's Theresa Wentzler's Majestic Peacock, in kit form and it's going to be stunning.  About 75% of the threads colors involved blended threads (two threads on the needle to make a sort of tweeded color variation), and it's making for some really rich subtle old-style tapesty depth.  Unfortunately, the kit came with 18ct Aida - on a chart that is tons of quarter crosses and blended threads!  What were they thinking??  That was highly unpleasant to work with, so I put it away, and rather than plod on with the bit of corner I'd managed to finish, I restarted it today on a piece of lovely soft-to-the-touch 28ct Monoco evenweave.  I also took some time to put together my blended threads (making little paper envelopes for  them), at least those required for this corner section.

This is going to be a very challenging project - but the end result is going to be a gorgeous bit of tapestry... and I have a strong affinity for peacocks, so I can't wait.

Each day I'm pulling my projects out of the large bag they're all housed in, so I'm intrigued now to find out what's next!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 4

After doing a bit of catch up by starting the Elizabeth B Sampler, I spent some time working on the Vermillion Stitchery's Beary Godmother I'd begun about four years ago.  I do have one skein of thread I'll need to pick up to finish this one (all together I need about 8 skeins - not bad for 15 projects!).  This is where it had been left off:

And this is what I did today - once again, I'm in the land of white on white, so it's hard to see what got done:

And with that, I think I'm ready for another nap!

Crazy January Challenge - Day 3 (one day late)

Since I couldn't bring myself to stitch or do anything at all yesterday but moan, I worked on two items today.  First I did a little bit on a new start - The Sampler Girl's Elizabeth B Sampler.  I am using my own threads, because she calls for Gentle Arts Threads and one little rule I gave myself was no buying special threads or fabrics - use my own stash!

So here is what I've got so far - it's going to be a fast stitch, I think:

New Moon TUSAL

TUSAL = Totally Useless Stitch-a-long.  In other words, showing off our little scrap thread jars.  I started mine after last month's New Moon, which means it's been pretty busy, since that included a lot of holiday stitching:

In other mundane news, I'm mostly over the Death Virus now - I've had toast and chicken soup, and ginger ale.  I tried some tea and it was gross, and I can't even think about coffee yet.  But I think I'll be fine by tomorrow.

My day was spent watching TV and stitching between naps.  It was NOT spent doing dishes or laundry... and I'd love for a good fairy to come do those for me while I sleep.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Plague

My regularly schedule life has ground to a total halt while I attempt to survive the plage, aka, this horrible virus that's going around.  Hailey had it first, then her parents.... now me and poor Michael developed it this morning.

Since about 2 am last night, I've been living on the commode, holding a bucket so I can throw up at the same time.  That was pretty much constant until about 2 pm this afternoon.

Now, it's severe wooziness, fever, headache, weak as a half dead kitten.  I'm finally being able to sip some ginger ale and try to turn around the dehydration and chicken soup is sort of sounding ok right now - but not so ok I want to stand up to fix it.

So... no weekly menu right now, because the thought of food generates very bad chain reactions, and while i had my cross stitch start ready to go today, I'm not going anywhere near it with their highly contagious germs of death.

It seems to move pretty quick - one day of seriously wondering if you're dying, and a couple days of recovery.  I'll be back when I can stay away more than ten minutes at a time.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Goals (Not Resolutions)

I don't do well with resolutions.  I don't do all THAT well with goals, come to that - but at least goals sound like something to aim for.  Resolutions, in my eternally adolescent rebellion-brain immediately sound like something to break, find a loophole, or otherwise work around rather than through.

Most of my goal-energy this year is centered on the culmination of a couple of huge life projects and just about everything else is secondary to these:

1.  See my youngest child through to independence.  I'm not really ready for her to an adult yet... I'm absolutely sure she's not really ready for it herself.  But she graduates in June, with full intentions to move out and stay in this area and I can't stay here any longer.  So  I'll be helping her figure out her own goals and path and then keep the door to join me wide open if it doesn't work out.

2. My second goal - and the reason why I can't just stay here and be a home base to her if she needs it, is to move back to the DC area to live with (and eventually marry) Michael.  This has been a long time in the making... and for the last three years, it's been delayed so hat my youngest could finish out her high school years here without needing to go through a large transition.  (Giving her that bit of steadiness was simply vital - her father left a lot of chaos and instability when he left, and putting her through any more just felt like horrible parenting.. thank goodness for Michael's patience and understanding on that score.

So most of my goals involve some form of preparation for these two - sorting through possessions... what's to take, what's to pass on to children... what's to sell or give away or toss. Etc, Etc.  I need to create a big breakdown for all that - but not here publicly, and not today.  So...

3. Make a breakdown of steps needed to relocate.

My other goals are the more usual personal development or those intended to create order or to put a sense of fun into mundane tasks by creating 'rules'.


4. Try to use my crock pot at least every other week - once a week preferred.

5. Make soup more often - once every couple weeks.  If this becomes a habit, once a week.

6. Organize and put together family recipes into an official family cookbook to be given to each of my girls.

7. Work toward developing the habit of getting away from processed foods in favor of 'real' foods.  This goal will kick into higher gear after I move (and I go from "I feel so deprived" from Deanna to supportive Michael).

8. Using the 10-minutes Artisan bread system, develop the habit of weekly breadmaking.


9. Get back into the habit of a cleaning/decluttering routine.


10. Work on my Jan 15 Challenge projects and try to get as many of them finished by the end of the year as possible.  (And try to ignore how 15 as a number for a 12 month year just hurts my brain)

11. Make one Christmas themed ornament a month so I don't try to make 12 of them in one month like this year.

12. Make one seasonal themed ornament for each turn of the Wheel, for my year 'round tree.


13.  Stop fretting.  (That one is with a smile to Michael, who told me I fret too much, and is correct)

Pieces of Fate is working to build up a list of those doing Goals, NOT Resolutions - go check them out and add your own!

Crazy January Challenge - Day 2

Today's Challenge project was a WIP - a very long vinyl weave growth chart I stalled out on last summer.  And as soon as I picked it up, I remembered why I'd stalled.  This is where it was when I began today:

And, after a hefty bit of stitching, this is where I'm leaving off today:

Yes, you can see that I got the words finished... and if you're paying close attention, you can tell some outlining was done.  What you don't see is all the white on white - white on white outside the blue line on the cloud, inside...and so so so much more yet to go.  All done on icky to the touch vinyl.  And this big white cloud is just the header to the chart.

This is going to be the next 18 year baby gift, I can just see it now.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Crazy January Challenge - Day 1

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope it's been good to you so far!  My day was spent visiting with Michael and cooking mostly - but I also made sure to start a new project for the first day of the Crazy January Challenge - one down, fourteen to go!

Not much to see so far - this is a design of mine I haven't actually stitched yet, so it'll be a mystery to all of us if the coloring works or not... so far, I'm worried - I think the shading may be a bit too subtle, but I've got a good ways to go before I'll really know.

It's going to be a pocketwatch image, along with a Dr. Who saying, and I'll post progress at it goes along.  The fabric is 28ct beige linen.

Tomorrow, I've a lot to do - take down the tree and other ornaments, grocery shop, laundry and see Michael off. My Day 2 project will be a WIP (work in progress), and I'm not sure how much I'll get done ... but every stitch crossed is one step farther.