December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

I have some modest goals for the new year:
Keep working on--and starting--those stitching projects that interest me.

Eat more vegetables.

Plant a larger garden so I can share with my friends.

Try new things and boldly explore.

Study harder.

Get more rest.

Happy New Year, all! Happy year ahead!

December 27, 2009

Samplers and Soup

I can't believe how peaceful it is without the hustle bustle of Christmas. I spent most of today stitching and making soup from the bones and scraps of the Christmas roast. I took a three-hour nap also. Overall, a good day! Coming down the home stretch on Rose Marie--if all goes well, I should finish sometime this week. Not the best photo since while I was napping the sun went down. As much as I needed the rest, it's a little disconcerting to fall asleep in the bright sunlight and wake up in the dark.

And a re-start. I've tried stitching this ("Keep Me" by Moira Blackburn) a couple of times but didn't like my former choices of fabric which were too yellow or rosy and didn't show the floss colors well. I'm getting over the need to stitch everything in silk, and I'm using the recommended floss: mostly WDW and some DMC. I'm doing the "proper" method with the variegated floss-one stitch at a time rather than laying down the row in one direction and then crossing back the entire row. It really does show the variation in color better. There are some funky colors in this, but I think they work in a way that solid silk wouldn't. I'm doing it two over two on 32 count. Normally I like 40 count, but I had this fabric in my stash (no idea what it is), and I like how the WDW looks on the white fabric.

Here's what I have so far. Note for border-phobes: there are two--almost three--borders in this, one within another!

Elvis, enjoying a Sunday nap until I woke him. I was grouchy as a bear when I woke up (the phone was ringing--nothing makes me crankier than to be awakened by a ringng phone)--hopefully poor Elvis isn't feeling the same way.

Happy week ahead!

December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Christmas is almost over for another year: We've played with all our new toys, winding up our praying mantis and watching it hop, over and over.

We have raced our "Racing Grannies."

We have launched our remote control helicopter:

And flown our remote control spaceship, which became entangled in the cobwebs on the ceiling fan (whoops).

We have feasted on roast beast and other tasty things. Family gatherings generally feature deviled eggs, summer and winter. This egg platter is a gift from the person who stole two of the eggs before the platter made it to the table.

We have managed a little stitching.

And some of us played with the empty packaging.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Much love and many kisses: Glenna, Pink, Elvis and Peaches.

December 20, 2009

Aftermath - What a Difference a Day Makes

From my deck: 3:00 p.m. This cracks me up. With the exception of the little bit of ice by the grill wheels, you'd never know there had been anything on the deck. And the shadow on the snow makes the background in this photo look like blue sky--as if a step off the deck would drop you down the side of a mountain. In fact we still have lots of snow, but we also have lots of sunshine. Three men came to the door and asked if we'd like our driveway shoveled. Why, yes, we would! And our sidewalks, decks and the entryway to the basement as well. We paid happily and high-fived each other because we would have spent a good part of the day shoveling and the snow is heavy!

I spent that found time working on a new project (and I haven't finished "July," although all that's left are the "quilt" stars at the bottom and the brown border. Here it is around noon.

I did some chores and came back to it: here it is around 7:00 p.m. It's "Rose Marie" by Blackberry Designs. I'm stitching with DMC on (I think) 34 count Legacy in a cream color. I'm hoping to finish it as an ornament before Christmas, although that calls for a trip to JoAnn's for backing fabric.

I should have put up the Christmas tree today, but I just can't bring myself to do it. The problem is that I want something different--not the same old artificial tree that we've used for years. So we're going to go out tomorrow and see what we can find. I'm hoping to find a nice cut tree. We'll see. I'd rather have almost anything--a palm tree perhaps, or a live tree with a rootball to plant later. Poor BF is just glad to be getting out of the house; I don't think he minds a trip to the plant store or my waffling.

Here's Elvis right after we adopted him two years ago, exploring. This is before he and Pink could be in the same room together because they'd fight.

Happy week ahead!

December 19, 2009

Please Stop the Snow. Thank You, the Donner Party

My deck, 8:30 p.m. We measured the depth of the snow--18 inches so far, and it's still snowing. It looks marshmallowy, doesn't it?

Speaking of which, this month's "Fine Cooking" has a photo of a chocolate cake with homemade marshmallows scattered over the top. I like chocolate stuff well enough, but I prefer marshmallows and caramel. I'm going to try making the marshmallows tomorrow since I have all the ingredients. Then I'll scatter them in hot chocolate after we shovel some more. We went out to shovel, and the snow is very heavy. We didn't even finish the driveway.

This is the neighbor's house across the street. Because it was getting dark, the flash bounced off the snowflakes. I thought this looked really Christmas-y.

I think Pink looks like a big marshmallow.

I'm headed off to stitch!

The View from My Deck

10:45 a.m.--the railing has lost some of its pile, but Mr. Grill's snow cap keeps getting taller:

Guess what I've been doing to pass the time? I'll probably finish this today, although it has occurred to me that in some tub somewhere I have a kitted-up applique Santa pillow. Hmmmm.

Pink and company are kicking back.

Update this afternoon!

To all of you having to change or cancel your Christmas plans, I feel bad for you if it's going to be a disappointment. My parents are planning to drive down from Cape Cod to see us, so I don't know which way that will go--they'll be getting our weather a day after we do. And the furniture company called (the scheduler called from her home; now that's good customer service!) They're coming Wednesday with our stuff, so we may be able to fill in those blank spots after all.

Keep warm and dry!

December 18, 2009

Washington Blizzard

Normally the only blizzards the DC area sees are the paper kind. This storm, which had been forecast more and more breathlessly with each passing hour, and with higher and higher potential snowfall predictions, is now being called a blizzard, and the weatherman is suggesting our area will see 20 inches or more. Gulp. Today finished up my last day of work before my vacation, a vacation that I was going to spend cleaning and preparing for our Christmas guests, who may or may not be arriving Wednesday, and awaiting the delivery of our furniture tomorrow, which almost certainly won't happen now (unfortunately, we already had the old stuff hauled away, so there are several notable bare spots where people might otherwise have sat), and finishing my barely-started Christmas shopping. None of this would be a huge deal if it weren't for the fact that we don't have a lot of road treatment equipment in VA, and because we do it so seldom that we're not very good at it, and because there are too many of us for the space we occupy, and we're particularly aggressive and rude drivers anyway, and we tend to bash into each other even on dry pavement.

Here's our deck at 11 p.m.

And at a few minutes past midnight. Oh, dear.

At 1:45:

On the other hand, those inconveniences aside, we could probably use the downtime to decorate the tree, bake cookies (something I only dream about doing most years) and have a nap. And stitch.

Peaches is worried that we're going to run out of rabbit food. No, Peaches, I did a run to the pet store on the way home from work, and we bought bags of timothy hay, rabbit treats, cases of cat food and bags of cat litter. Unfortunately the grocery store wasn't nearly as easy to get to as the pet store--there were no parking places and it was absolute bedlam inside--so we have a less-than-satisfactory haul by BF, whose idea of "stocking up" is different than mine. We won't starve, certainly, although our diet may consist of fried bologna sandwiches and cheese curls for a while. (Not really; we have lots of stuff in the freezer and pantry, but I know we're probably missing elements of meals that I won't be able to dash out and pick up.)

See you tomorrow with an updated report from the deck!

December 13, 2009

Stop and Stitch the Roses

I had an unsuccessful Christmas shopping trip yesterday where I bought nothing more than stocking stuffers (World Imports). I stopped at Joanne's to buy fabric to back a Christmas pillow, but there were 15 or so people in front of me at the cutting table, so I put the bolt back I don't enjoy Joanne's anyway, so it will force me on my vacation to go to Chantilly or 7 Corners and shop at G Street Fabrics. If you sew or quilt and live in or visit NoVa/Maryland, a stop at G Street is a must, although Exquisite Fabrics in Georgetown truly measures up to their name as well, so maybe I'll take a lunch hour or two or three and go there. Figuring my problem was that the big-box stores aren't what I'm looking for, I headed into the little city of Fred to shop in the little independent stores. I dithered over a live tree, pining for the 10-foot tree standing alone on the lot at Roxbury. Do-able with my 20 foot ceilings, but not in my average size sedan. So I grabbed a couple of huge amaryllis bulbs and called it a day. I looked at Christmas napkins and tablecloths and couldn't decide. I looked at little handmade bears and decided I was the only one I knew who needed a handmade bear, so I gave that a miss (edited to add: if I had time, bear-making (well, really, rabbit-making) and quilting and maybe an expansion of my knitting skills would be craft numbers 2, 3 and 4). I stood around the used book shop and looked at appealing and originally expensive cookbooks, now $10-15 apiece. Should you ever give a used book, however nice? Probably not. I thought of buying one for myself, since I much prefer to read about cooking than do it. So it was with a little sigh of both impatience and anticipation that I went to the LNS and my trip became more successful

I had enjoyed the Kreink adventures and decided I needed more sparkle and to stitch some ornaments. Or maybe just AN ornament. I have nearly finished "July," and I contemplated making the little red crab blue for the Maryland blue crab that we eat in the summer.

A little red crab in this area is a little cooked crab. I decided to sparkle him up a bit instead of turn him blue/green, so I bought some colorful (red, pink, gold, blue variegated) Kreinik blending filament for him. I think he turned out well.

I've started a snowflake from the pattern I received--Papillon Creations. PC gives you not only a beautifully charted main project but a bunch of little side projects as well. I used the snowflake from the front of the pin tuffet pattern, and if I have time, I might stitch a second one from the tuffet back. I'm using NPI 991BB (white) plus a strand of clear/white Kreinik blending filament. I'm using 40 ct Lakeside in blue something-or-other.

Here's one bit of stash that I bought. This is by Marie Driskill of Blackberry Lane Designs, and it's called "Rose Marie." This is the same designer who created the tiny squirrel project that I haven't completed since I need to do a bit of frogging. Like "Squirrel," this pattern calls for tons of DMC colors and is stitched over one on 40 count. I won't be doing over 1 on 40 count, but I may do over 2 on 45 count. I'd love to do it in time for a Christmas ornament, but I suspect I won't be able to.

I've been steadily cleaning and 1-800-Got-Junk came today to haul away some stuff we didn't need, so I'm making progress at home, even if I haven't decorated. I've made the rounds of your blogs and I'm in awe of your talents as designers, stitchers, sew-ers and decorators. Most inspiring!

Pink wants me to read "The Night Before Christmas," and tell the story about how he came to live here at Christmas two years ago.

Happy week ahead--and remember to stop and stitch the roses!

December 06, 2009

Let There Be Kreinik. And Bugle Beads. And Seed Beads.

Yesterday, I took the finals for school and kicked those two hideous classes to the curb. Worst semester ever. Today I was free, and I've now got about an eight-week break. I'm giddy. And to celebrate, I wanted sparkles. The weather gave me sparkles in the back yard. We got a few inches of snow yesterday, and here it is, pretty much all gone, but there's enough left to frost the lawn:

I couldn't settle on a large project, so I picked up a small one that was calling to me: Prairie Schooler's "July," which is almost done. Perverse, to do a summer stitch.

I decided to add some sparkle, so I stitched the fireworks with Kreinik that I had in my stash.

I wanted even more sparkles and shine, so I stopped by my LNS and bought this little project. It's called "A Very Merry Winter," by JBW. It doesn't look like much, but there was a stitched model in the shop, and the stitcher (a customer) had chosen to do it on sparkly 32 count Belfast Opalescent, seen to the right of the little chart photo. It calls for GAST fibers and little black seed beads for the bird seeds.

Then there's this, from Cross-Stitch and Needlework Magazine, a magazine I probably have never bought before: a project called "Winter Garden" which is dimensional and features not only an underlying cross-stitched picture of the gingerbread house which is DMC, beads and metallic thread stitched on linen, with an outer "frame" stitched on 14 count Vinyl weave (it looks just like vinyl aida, and I found it at Michaels tonight; my goodness, what a horrifying material) and also beaded and stitched with metallic threads as well as DMC. What a blast! I love the candy/fruit/ornament/berry outer frame over the bead-encrusted cottage. Something fun to stitch on Christmas morning, don't you think? Not my usual style, of course, but irresistable with 30 shades of DMC (none of them subtle), 9 colors of Kreinik braid, and 13 different beads of all sizes and colors.

"I have a sparkling personality."

Happy week ahead!