January 28, 2009

I'm Lookin' at You

I stayed home today because of the ice, even though our office closings follow the federal government, and it wasn't closed today. I figured the main roads were ok, but the back road--my house to the bus lot, and the lot itself--would be like they were last night. Last night I saw something upsetting, although in comparison to what else goes on in the world, it was minor, I suppose. Still, where do people get the audacity to crap on other people and then go their merry way with nary a backward glance? It had snowed lightly all day while I was at work yesterday, and by evening the snow had changed into sleet and freezing rain. The bus picked us up, made its cautious way home and dropped us at the bus lot around 7:30. Our cars were covered with snow and ice, and there were about 25 of us, scraping and brushing. The lot itself was icy, but not falling-down icy, just slushy and freezing puddles. I was one of the last people out of the lot, and I was sitting in the car, waiting for the defroster to do its thing and idly looking at the only other person left in the lot, cleaning off his big truck. It was one of the military guys we pick up at the Pentagon; I could see that he was wearing camos and the beret, but couldn't see which one he was. He got done, hopped in the truck, put it in reverse, turned the wheel and crashed into the little car next to him. He hit that car so hard it moved it sideways. The truck stopped, he got out and inspected the car, and I'm thinking good, write a note and leave it on the windshield--it was an accident. But he got back in the truck and drove off, passing by my car and cutting off his headlights as he did so (by then I'd turned my headlights on, so he knew someone was in the car). So I couldn't get his license tag? Why else would you turn off your headlights to drive off? I feel so terrible--I could probably identify the truck, but lots of people drive them, it's a big lot, it was dark, and everything was covered in snow and ice. I didn't have my wits about me to follow him out to the road--he was moving pretty fast. I felt so sorry for the guy who would alight from the next bus, go to scrape his car and discover the damage. I couldn't see the damage in the dark, but there HAD to be something, as hard as it was hit. I thought of writing the guy a note, but what would I say? "I sort of saw who hit you, but I couldn't see well enough to tell you who it was or what they were driving, exactly." The only thing I can hope is that Mr. Military Man in a Monster Truck did the right thing when he got home (although he didn't jot down the license tag) and called his insurance company or the sheriff. Right. Maybe what I should hope is that he didn't sleep very well last night thinking about the person who saw him do the wrong thing. Hitting someone else's car--understandable. Dimming your lights to make a getaway: chilling. Have you ever heard of that book, The Sociopath Next Door? I'm going to be looking for him over the next little while...

Anyway, this is what I accomplished on A Garden Grew. I forgot to mention that the Lakeside Linen color is "bittersweet." The biggest challenge of this thing is the counting. I've had to frog out some stuff already.

And I felt moved to pick up "Dorothy's Garden" and do a little work on it also. Mmmmm--silk.

"I'm lookin' at you."

"Oh, wait. Now I'm lookin' at you and I can see. Thanks for the haircut, even if it does make me less cute."

January 25, 2009

Night of the Lepus

This has been a busy weekend on the stitching front. Work on Dicken's Mitten:

I spent quite a bit of time gathering the materials for "And a Garden Grew." I love the way the designer has put together the project: It is comprised of 18 sections, each of which is on a separate page of the booklet. Each page has a complete list of the threads required to complete that page. There are 51 colors on page 1, and I had all but 7 of them. And I didn't like the fabric I was going to use originally, so off I went to Everything Cross Stitch, where I selected a beautiful cut of rosy Lakeside Linen fabric in 32 count. The photo here doesn't do it justice. It's a little ruddier and blotchier than the photo of the model (which calls for Picture This), but it did well with the floss toss, and I really like it. The biggest challenge on this project is organization: how not to spend your entire allotted stitching break looking for the right number on the thread in order to put in about five stitches before you move on to the next elusive skein. I tried different systems until I found one I liked. I tried wrapping the thread on individual bobbins, labeling them, and hanging them on a ring. Too fussy and time-consuming for me. I tried putting them in the little floss baggies with the number showing through the bag and hanging them on a ring in order. Not as fussy, but not ideal either, and I didn't have enough floss bags. So I settled on putting a range of numbers in a series of ziploc freezer bags that I labeled on the convenient place on the front of the bags. So 100-299 in bag 1, 300-488 in bage 2, etc. That works better, saves time and doesn't involve fussiness or frustration.

Don't you love the little bees? What I especially like about this project--and it's probably the same thing with working on a quaker--is that you can sit down and work on a motif, large or small, and if you need to go off and do something else, like scrub a toilet, you've still accomplished something. I also like that this project is full of unexpected little bugs and animals: loads of bunnies, a badger, a fox, snails. Mary and I are both working on this in sort of a loose, no-expectations, no-pressure SAL. Anyone care to join us? It will probably take me 5 years--but then again, at one motif at a time, maybe not.

The other night, BF brought home a horror film that a friend had recommended, call "Night of the Lepus." There's nary a lepus anywhere, since a lepus is a hare, but this 1972 movie was a hilarious, campy look at the carnage wrought by bunnies who'd been given hormones to slow down their breeding cycle and destructiveness. Naturally, being a horror movie, they turned into 150-pound carnivores who rampaged down freeways, jumped through windows to attack people and rip them apart, etc. The movie featured a haggard-looking Janet Leigh and other actors you'd recognize.

Here's a horrifying, blood-thirsty bunny now. I was too sleepy to stick the entire thing out, so BF fast-forwarded through the various scenes. What was most hilarious was the "special effects," which consisted of regular-size bunnies running through models of little houses and cars and barns.

The movie was particularly appropriate for the weekend, since we had our own bunny horror story. We came home from work to a bill from our insurance company which hiked our premium by $900 a year, thanks to the damage done by Pink, who caused the Great Flood of '08 when he chewed through the water supply tube to the master bath toilet (needless to say, that door is kept firmly shut at all times now) and flooded the upstairs, causing the brand-new ceramic floors to be jack-hammered up so that the sub-floor could dry. Although we've been homeowners for over 20 years without a single claim, this incident reached deep into our pockets, as we suspected it might. After a little rearranging and switching to the company that insures my car and purchasing an extra umbrella policy (worth looking into in these litigious times), we wound up paying just a couple hundred $ more than we have been, so it's better than it could have been.

Pink: "I'm really sorry, Mom. Maybe I could get a paper route...."

January 21, 2009


Do you like my new banner photo? It's a picture I shot today while I was out and about in Fredericksburg, of Kenmore Plantation, which was George Washington's sister's home. I like it far better than Mount Vernon, where George lived. Talk about Sampler-Ready. I have to confess that I have never been inside, which I'll have to do in March when it re-opens. And I badly want to see the gardens; the local garden club has restored them, and they're supposed to be wonderful. Here's a link to the website, if you're interested--it takes you on a nice room-by-room tour of the renovation. When I'm retired (yeah, sure), I'd like to do the degree in historic preservation offered by the University of Mary Washington.

I'm a little sad that this is the last day of my mini vacation. I went find a shirt or two for work at the mall, promising myself two things (I hate malls). Wait. That's a misplaced modifier; I don't work at the mall. See? I'm all tangled up. Anyway, I went to the mall to buy a shirt. For work. And the first reward? An Auntie Ann's pretzel with a diet coke. And then I thought, well, if I didn't find anything much, or it isn't expensive, I'd then go to Everything Cross Stitch and kit up a couple of things. Which, when you think of it, is a conflict of interest, because of course I won't find any shirts or spend any money if the reward for not finding or spending is going to the needlework store. But I bought a nice shirt and a pink sweater and then, having spent way less than my allotted clothing budget, I hightailed it to Fredericksburg to buy something far more interesting.

First things, first: some progress on Peaceful Paradise.

Here's what I got: Rosewood Manor "And a Garden Grew." AGAIN. I have completely lost the original copy--probably threw it out with some magazines. I have thoroughly combed my needlework areas several times, and it's just not here. I already own the fabric and the majority of the DMC (there are 120 colors of DMC in this, so I'm not even contemplating substituting it out).

I kitted this up because when I was at the shop last, I spied the nicest, minty-green Lakeside linen for this project. Edited to add: this is The Skating Party, by Praiseworthy Stitches. I'm doing it on 32 count linen (in Patina) using the called-for GAST and WDW threads.

Other than my little journey to the mall and the needlework shop, I've been inside stitching and doing stuff in the house. Like cooking. Last night I made a recipe from one of those magazine pull-outs in one of the Sunday papers: Penne with Vodka sauce. It called for onions and carrots, diced and sauteed in olive oil, along with tomato paste, two cans of tomatoes, including the fire-roasted ones (which have black burned bits on them--shoot--I'm calling all my food "fire-roasted," since I have a bad habit of starting a meal and then wandering away distractedly to read or stitch.) And vodka, which you can't taste at all. It doesn't seem to add any tanginess/saltiness in the way that wine does, so I think you could leave out the vodka, unless you happen to want to have a cocktail with it while you cook. Anyway, you finish off the dish with some cream, which makes it smooth and silky and turns it all pink. Mmmmm. Predictably, BF said: "Where's the meat?" when I served it.

"Did someone say 'Pink?'"

January 19, 2009

Monday Bunday

I thought about going out today to the LNS, to the paint store, to Macy's for some socks. But I didn't. I hung out with Buckaroo and stitched instead. The light was pouring into the family room, which made it perfect for seeing a project done in 40 ct.

This is Midsummer Night Designs' "Peaceful Paradise," which I've been working on for a while and had put away because I was weary of it. Now it seems fresh again.

The design was not charted with this black bunny; I filled in a picture of my dear bunny, who died about a year ago, Bunnyman. I changed the color of the cat sitting next to him to look like Martha, our best-ever tabby, who hopefully is looking after the Bunnyman in heaven.

This is the section I'm working on--lots and lots of words. Sort of tedious, but not as tedious as my job.

Late in the afternoon I was tired of the little voice in my head urging me to go outside for a good walk. Do you have a naggy voice like that? Jeez, it wouldn't leave me alone, so out I went. It's cold, and I walked fast, so now I'm sort of sleepy. Something tells me I won't be stitching until 2 a.m. as I have the last two nights. I came home via the hill above my house, through the back yard and past the garden, which I'm planning to enlarge this year. Once inside, I got out the seed catalogues and started to put together an order.

Pink and Elvis, conferring. What a couple of bums!

January 18, 2009

A Finish and a Start

Thank you, everyone, for your encouragement to finish this. I said I wanted to do at least three of these (Sheepish Designs) and frame them to hang together; there are a half-dozen or so with a similar theme. I thought they might be easy enough to pick up, but the designer has retired, and now they're out of print, so I'm left to comb ebay. I lost out on one today--"Meet Me At the Field," which features a hot air balloon--because I was stitching rather than haunting ebay. Ooops. Anyway, here's the first, "Gone Fishing" by Sheepish Designs, stitched on 32 count Lakeside Linen (I've forgotten the color), not using the called for threads (DMC), but instead using GAST and Crescent Colours from my stash.

Here's my progression for the last couple of days on "Dickens' Mittens" by The Cricket Collection, using neither the called for linen or threads. I'm using 32 ct Lakeside Linen in Pear, along with GAST, WDW and Crescent Colors. I've tried to stick fairly close to the colors in the photo without being a slave to them. Anyway, here's Friday night:


Today (this is the closest to the real-life color):

I'm off for three more days, and it's cold and gray, so I'll be staying in a lot. I wish I knew how bad traffic is likely to be in the Alexandria area tomorrow, because I'd like to squeeze in a visit to the LNS for some Paternayan yarns to do a needlepoint pillow. I have a book by Donna Kooler in my library with the best rabbit design... I found the book while I was looking for Rosewood Manor's Garden sampler. Darned if I can find it--I've been looking for it for a couple of weeks now. Doesn't that drive you nuts? I took it as a sign to straighten up my stuff, but still no chart!
My first course is getting off to a slow start, so I have at least another week or two to fiddle with this stuff.
Here we have the roar of the lionhead. My, what sharp teeth you have, Elvis!

January 14, 2009

Washington Wednesday

I've got to tell you: I have wanted to stuff this project in a drawer lately and start something else. Why? Because it's almost done, and I'm apparently secretly opposed to finishing things. Commitment problems? Not me--just ask my boyfriend of 15 years! Pink Dress looks a little like an alien now, doesn't she? I was going to stitch Roswell alien eyes on her, and then decided I didn't want to frog them back out. She needs some hair still, and so does he. Should be done tomorrow...maybe.

I asked myself on the way to work this morning: Can I actually finish this project and move on, and I got an answer immediately. I should have asked something harder.

Isn't this a nice, serene early-morning shot of the Lincoln Memorial from the bus window? As you can imagine, though, DC is anything but serene these days. In fact, it's Crazy Town. The Pres-Elect and his family are staying in a hotel nearby, and the secret service has shut down the surrounding streets, which has a huge impact on traffic. You may have heard the controversy over the fact that they're slamming the bridges shut between Virginia and DC on Inauguration Day. That's ok with me; I'm going to be home, warm and cozy and working on my newest stitching project while a zillion people get in line for the porta-potties. Our office is always closed for inaugurations, since we're across the street from the White House, and it is difficult to get to our building through security.

You bunny owners know what Pink's doing here, don't you?

Pink: "What!? I'm just looking in my pocket for my cell phone!"

"I'm busy chewing my lucky rabbit foot."

January 11, 2009

I'd Forget My Head

The woman in the pink dress has lost her keys. And her eyeglasses. I'm that woman! Actually, things have become more orderly since I've been out of school, but they're about to get chaotic again. I'd originally signed up for just two accounting courses this semester, which start on Feb. 2--a comfortable workload following a nice break. At the last minute I added a third course, Corporate Finance, which starts at the end of this week. I'm impatient to get out of my present career and into a new one, so I'm going to push myself. So the nice leisurely weekends of stitching and knitting and napping and cooking are coming to an end. Along with remembering to comb my hair before I leave the house. This project, at least, will be done. I didn't finish, but I'm close--just a few more elements to stitch.

Peaches: "A lady should always remember to be well-groomed."

One more sampler house from Fredericksburg's historic district. This is a little different--sorry for the angle of the shot--I had to shoot over the parked cars. The colors are remarkable, I think. They are probably historically correct, even though I never would have used that salmon color--ugh. I suspect it's a carpenter gothic, but I'm not sure because the windows are not arched. It's so interesting to have all these different vintage homes on the same streets. When we bought our house, we looked downtown at some historic homes in our budget. There were some houses that were going to need a scary and constant infusion of money--talk about money pits--so we passed.

Have a great week!

January 04, 2009

A Day Late and a Bulb Short

I've spent some time stitching, so here's "Gone Fishing." I'd love to finish it up this week, because I have a lot of other projects waiting in the wings.

This is one of them: "Dickens' Mittens The Last Word." I don't have much Christmas spirit while it's going on--there's no time!--but afterwards, probably because it's more peaceful and relaxed and there are no expectations to fulfill and no hysteria, I want to stitch a Christmas project in front of the fire. And light the Christmas lights, which by now are taken down and put away. A day late and a lightbulb short.

This was New Year's lunch. We drove to Falls Church for dim sum and to do some errands. We nibbled and sat for a couple of hours; we've learned over time that the dim sum cart offerings change gradually, and it's best not to fill up right away on steamed dumplings and pot stickers (which you can get anywhere), because if you're patient, the more interesting and exotic things come later. Which is kind of metaphorical, isn't it? This restaurant is open 365 days a year, and is perfect for those of us seeking a respite from the same-old holiday fare. One Thanksgiving we took our guests there instead of making the same old turkey-and-stuffing-and-gravy-and-cranberry. They didn't like it--LOL.

Another of Pink's New Year's resolutions: Get More Rest.

And one last sampler house, before they take the wreaths down. RG, this one has more windows to wash, unfortunately.

January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

Here's another Fredericksburg sampler-ready house. Perfect, isn't it? Right down to the real magnolia leaf Christmas decor.

Except there's always a fly in the ointment, isn't there? Sometimes others just don't share your vision. Especially when there's a sale at Lowe's on robin's egg blue paint. It's even more jarring IRL.

Speaking of blue houses, "Gone Fishing" is progressing nicely.

I didn't think I'd enjoy the palestrina-knot and satin-stitched acorns and leaves, and thought about just cross-stitching them. I'm glad I took the trouble; they were fun.

Pink is demonstrating some of my New Year's resolutions. I'm going to try to hang my clothes up in the closet instead of draping them over the railing--which is clearly visible from the front door. After all, the occasional neighbor and UPS guy really don't need to inspect my lingerie wardrobe when they come to the door, now do they?

More exercise. LOTS more exercise. Put the shoes on!

And stitching, lots more stitching. Take the shoes off. The heck with exercise, eating right, paying the bills on time, studying for exams, cleaning the house or hanging up my clothes--there are projects to complete.
Oh. Complete some projects from the WIP tubs.
Happy New Year, all!