December 31, 2006

New Year's Sampler Eve!

Although it's been a typically busy weekend, I managed to do some stitching on Whale Hunting, shown here.

The gold star button I ordered from my LNS for the Birth of Jesus arrived, so I went to pick it up and did a little stash building, which is a perfect thing to do on the last day of the year. I didn't come close to finishing Birth of Jesus, but there's always next year, isn't there? Too funny--the LNS had a sign that said "359 Stitching Days Until Christmas." Maybe I should have bought an ornament to start--it might be done by next Christmas! One of the things I picked up was this little sampler by Chessie & Me, called 1890 House Sampler. It looks a lot like the IRL house we're bidding on right now, although, as you'll see from this picture, most of the houses in the neighborhood we've chosen look a lot like this Sampler, don't you think?

I'm thinking of designing a sampler called "urban sprawl." This view of the neighborhood we'll be settling in is from the back yard of a house we considered--the property was a bit...vertical. We figured it would be a problem if you tripped and fell while mowing the lawn.

A Happy and Healthy New Year to you all!

December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas to All My Stitching Friends!

I spent part of my Christmas bonus on the above print, Port of Georgetown, which is by Carol Dyer. Wouldn't it be terrific as a needlework project?

I hope everyone's Christmas has been peaceful and joyous.

December 24, 2006

Sampler Sunday/Monday: Christmas Edition

Here's another shot of the underskirt of the renaissance-style wedding dress displayed in the window of my LNS in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I called the LNS to get the scoop. Such a nice story for Christmas. This dress was painstakingly stitched by a woman for her friend's wedding. The wedding had a renaissance theme, and the dress was researched carefully for authenticity and hand-sewn, then embroidered. Such a wonderful thing to do for a friend.

Yesterday was a blur of busy-ness, including more househunting and then some last-minute Christmas shopping. We have toured many houses in the last few weeks, looking in cupboards and in closets, noting beadboard and chair rail and crown molding and assessing people's Christmas trees. We have seen so many Christmas trees in so many different styles, all of them beautiful.

Today was a gift: After a quick stop at the grocery store, we stayed home to enjoy our tree and relax. We're on our own this year; we didn't have the time to go to Cape Cod. I took a much-needed nap this afternoon, cuddling with three of our cats, and then roasted a duck for Christmas eve dinner (tomorrow we'll make my family's traditional dinner: standing rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding). After dinner tonight, we drove around for an hour or so, looking at people's Christmas lights. It was wonderful.

Here are some Christmas decorations from Washington. The large building is the Treasury Dept. The two wreaths hang on one of the gates at the White House. They're real and very fresh, by the way; I pinched them between my fingers and sniffed them under the watchful eye of the Secret Service.

Last but not least is the Sunday Sampler: "Blessed Are the Needleworkers," by the Kreinik Manufacturing Co. The kit comes in a little CD-sized case and includes the directions and 9 skeins of Kreinik Silk Mori Milkpaint colors. The fabric, purchased separately, is 32 ct. flax color linen.

A very merry Christmas to you all!

December 17, 2006

Back to the Hunt: Sampler Sunday

It's been quite a week. Here are two pictures from my latest visit to my LNS. They had this wonderful dress showcased in their window. I forgot to ask why, because I was rushed and we chatted about other things. Probably one of the local tourist-destination mansions loaned it out. Because I've loaded so many other photos, I won't show you my stash or ruminate on a sampler today. Hopefully by clicking on the photos, you can see the incredible detail. Good thing it isn't a kit--I'd have had to buy it!

Notice the bee! There are also butterflies and a spider web.

I haven't had much time to stitch this week, but here's some progress on whale hunting.

The sellers of the home I showed you last week wouldn't meet our offer, so we moved on to another house. It's wonderful also and has a prettier yard, so I don't feel sad at all. But it's a hassle, both for us and for the poor real estate broker, to have to do the paperwork all over again, particularly at this time of year.
The most amazing thing: yesterday we went to a newly listed home and were given a guided tour by the owner (note to anyone doing that--NOT a good idea since the prospective buyers don't have a chance to talk privately and also because the seller may wind up chat-chat-chatting as this one did about her hopes and fears and plans and intentions, which told us more than we should have known about her financial position). Although ultimately her house wasn't right for us, she was an utterly charming and a fascinating person. Two things: her husband has a stash of models (planes, boats, helicopters) in boxes, ready to be put together, that filled an entire ROOM. And we think our stash is big and bad? Mine doesn't hold a candle to his. The other is that in a guest room, hanging on a wall, was an antique sampler. A REAL antique sampler, stitched in 1837. Darned if I can remember the name of the stitcher, but she was a 13-year-old girl, and it was the most incredibly fine and complex stitching that I've seen in an antique. There were some little holes at the bottom of the fabric, but other than that, it is perfect. My goodness, and she didn't even know what she had. I asked her if she knew what it was worth and she said no, that her mom had found it somewhere and had given it to her, so it was precious for that. I filled her in on the likelihood of the thousands of dollars it might be worth and urged her to check with an appraiser. Whoa--if I had found that in a shop or at a yard sale, I'd have about had a heart attack.

Last, here's this year's glitzy wreath. Actually, we have a traditional greenery and red bow wreath for our gate, but this will hang on the front door. Because nothing says Merry Christmas like a cascade of falling sequins every time you open the door....

December 10, 2006

Sampler Sunday: The Well-Tempered Disklavier

I did some stitching this week on Stockholm (to see progress, you may want to scroll down a couple of days). Basically I worked on water, of which there is a lot in this project. Not much time to stitch though, with Christmas breathing down our necks, is there?

Here's today's sampler, by the Scarlet Letter. It's called The Fishing Lady. I'm picturing fishing in that dress. Note that the female is doing the heavy lifting here. The guy has come down from the house where he was getting ready to stretch out and listen to his CD player. He's come to the pond to determine whether she's through using his headphone wires as fishing line and also to find out when dinner will be ready. She's trying to determine if the dinner will swim away while she holds the guy's head under the water until he stops talking.

The last few houses that we viewed yesterday were hilarious. One house had a swimming pool surrounded by garden gnomes, Greek statues, pottery burros pulling cartloads of dead plants, and all manner of other plastic/resin/plaster animals. Another house in a gorgeous neighborhood was run down and dirty inside, and reeked strongly of pot smoke. A second house in the same neighborhood came with a commercial stove and a grand piano. I would have bought the house for either one of them, although I don't particularly like to cook and I don't play the piano. It's not as farfetched as it sounds, though; I have played the violin for years and have wanted to take piano lessons for a long time but haven't done so since I don't own a piano. This was a nine-foot Yamaha grand piano, called a "Disklavier." The Disklavier comes with a digital attachment which takes CDs. You can play the Disklavier as you would any concert grand (with or without orchestral accompaniment), or you can use it as a player piano or you can record and enhance digital music files. I love the name "Disklavier." Even better is the name for the electronic predecessor of this piano: the Clavinova. Then again, when would I fit piano lessons into my schedule? BF nixed the stove/piano house, unfortunately. It has been an eye-opener for BF and me to see how little we agree on our residence and on important financial matters; no wonder so many couples buy a house and then get a divorce. I heard of a couple who had searched long and hard for the perfect house and then got a divorce before they ever finished the negotiations for it.
So here's the house we've decided on; we made an offer this morning, and we should know by tomorrow if the seller accepts it.

December 07, 2006

Christmas in the City

The law firm where I work is across the street from the White House, the Old Executive Office Building, the Treasury Dept. and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery. Nice neighborhood, although I don't particularly notice it most days. But everything seems extra spiffy for Christmas this year, so I thought I'd share some pictures. It's even nicer at night when I leave, but my little camera doesn't do well with night shots. This first photo is of the Old Executive Office Building (there's a new Exec. Office Bldg., but it's hideous in the way of contemporary government space). My favorite part of the OEOB, which I only caught a slice of, is the pair of enormous magnolias on the lawn. I love the huge wreath and the column wrapping, all of which is lit up at night.

This is the Sun Trust Bank building. I like the building, which reminds me of Glasgow, Scotland, where there is block after block of buildings in this style. Nice wreath.
This is the Renwick Gallery. I'm disappointed with the Smithsonian folks, who I think could have done a better job with the wreaths and swags. They're way too small for the building's scale. All the same, the banners are intriguing; I'll have to check out the exhibit one of these days at lunch, maybe during the quiet time between Christmas and New Year.

The last photo is the Christmas tableau at my desk: Coke's Christmas polar bears and the bright red binding of the SEC Handbook, which spells out all things related to the reporting duties of publicly-held companies.

December 03, 2006

Long Ago and Far Away (Sampler Sunday)

I pulled out this UFO today, and now it has become a WIP. I'd forgotten how much fun it was and also, how huge (it's a little more than 3 feet wide!). I bought it years and years ago (maybe 17) and started it, then put it away and didn't cross stitch at all for a number of years. I had taken up knitting then and I remember being really tired of stitching it. Back then there weren't as many cute smaller projects for taking a break from a major project as there are now. It is called Stockholm and came as a kit. It lists only "evenweave fabric" and DMC cotton. I ordered it from a beautiful catalogue from Eva Rosenstand, which is still in business and now has an online presence although you can still order the printed catalogue (you must order the kits from a dealer or from the catalogue I think). I discovered this design is still in print. I searched for it and found it in a few U.K. shops for about 75 British pounds--yikes--that's about $135 U.S.! I know I didn't pay nearly that much when I bought it. The design is described as a "map," and there are others: Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Oslo, London. They are all extremely elaborate.

It was nice to get this out because I am taking a bit of a break from stitching Whale Hunting. Partly I was getting a bit bored (although I'm determined to finish it sooner rather than later so that I can have it framed to hang in our new house) and partly it's the demands of the season; Christmas shopping, house hunting, my neglected accounting class, resuming an exercise program. I'm determined to give myself the gift of weight-loss and physical fitness. I think from time to time of what I would regret if I were lying on my deathbed (other than all those UFOs) and I feel that although I've lived a full and rich life so far, I live too much in my head. I'd love to be fit enough to run a marathon. As an over-40 runner, I'd be considered a master, but I kind of like that title anyway. Think how many things that can apply to. Master stitcher?
We are still looking for a house but we still haven't found the perfect residence for us. We saw about eight houses this weekend. One of the houses we was a bargain-basement price because, aside from the really terrible housing market, there is a scorched-earth divorce going on and it needs to be sold. Although it's a beautiful and hardly-lived-in house, I'm uneasy. My X-DH used to say it was bad luck to buy someone else's tears.

We visited this house yesterday. Although this is an artist's rendering, we toured the model, where the sun was coming in through the large windows and bathing the bed in the wonderful master bedroom with warmth. What a fantastic place to curl up and have a nap, surrounded by cats and stitching.