December 31, 2010

New Year's Rockin' Eve

Things will be quiet here on New Year's Eve. I picked up my car today, did a bit of grocery shopping and headed home. Spaghetti and Italian sausage is on the menu for the evening meal, and if I can stay awake, a bit of stitching toward the Crazy January challenge, the rules of which I'm altering to manage the huge WIP pile of things I've already started. But there will be some new projects, all of them from my stash but one--a pretty, new-to-me sampler that I picked up yesterday when I visited In Stitches. No picture of that yet--I'll be posting each of the next 15 days with a project each day, and I think that will be day 3 or 4.

Here's the update on Christinia Cathcart. The alphabets are VERY time-consuming. In spite of working on this sampler every day for 4-5 hours per day since Sunday, this is as far as I've gotten. I'd hoped to make it over to the right border, but not yet.

Have you seen McDonalds' new toy promotion? The little stuffed animals that come in a Happy Meal are adorable. I'm contemplating buying a Happy Meal each of the next 15 days so that I can collect a bunch of them--but most of all, I want the little white rabbit that's part of the collection. I went through the drive-through today, and when I opened the box there wasn't a little pet, so I parked, marched into the place and asked for my pet. I got it, but it wasn't the rabbit. I'll keep trying. I'm thinking that collecting these animals may be at odds with my diet. I'm wondering if I can get apple or carrot slices instead of fries.

Anna and I have similar lists of New Year's resolutions in several points; here are some of mine:

1. Stitch on the Crazy 15 challenge
2. Learn to crochet
3. Become a better knitter
4. Become proficient at QuickBooks Pro (I've been taking a sorely neglected class)
5. Clean and declutter my house before I become like the crazy people who are buried and smothered by their own possessions
6. Spend some time on Cape Cod with my parents--my mom and I are going to hit some yarn stores on the Cape and walk windy, freezing, deserted beaches.
7. Exercise, eat better and try not to get to bed at 4 a.m. (true story) because I'm busy stitching
8. Find a job [edited to add that BF typically does not read my blog, or I would have put this up on #1. Hee.]

My Crazy 15 list (I'll add one title each day):

1. Christinia Cathcart

This is an older photo of Elvis and Scratchy:

Happy New Year, all, and see you tomorrow with a new start!

December 26, 2010

Happy Post-Christmas

Our Christms day was relaxing and fun. We made a new friend (my sister's new dog, rescued from an abuse/hoarder situation). He's a dear thing, but so scared.

We ate ourselves silly in a kind of potluck, casual meal. Here: shrimp, pupusas and tamales.

Crab melt-aways (edited to add recipe: 1/2 pound of blue crab meat--I used backfin so that it doesn't take fishy; 2 tblsp. of mayonnaise; 1 stick of butter; 1 5 oz. jar of Kraft Old English cheese; 1 tsp. of seasoning salt (like Lawry's). Mix thoroughly with a hand mixer until well blended into a paste. Spread thickly on halved/quartered English muffins and then freeze. (Freezing is an important step, even if it's just an hour or so.) Take out of the freezer and cook under the broiler until puffy and golden brown.)

Sugar plums? No, caramel (and everything else) apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory:

I have managed some stitching. This is Christinia Cathcart. I don't love the 32 count linen, but I'm not restarting it now. I do like the colors (AVAS). I can see a finish in my not-so-distant future.

And a closeup of the section I'm working on. Because of this and so many other WIPs, I'm modifying my "15 New Things" to maybe "3 New Things." I'm planning to go to In Stitches' pajama sale event tomorrow, if the weather cooperates--I'm not up for icy roads. Thank you, everyone, for your well wishes after my flu/accident/job situation. For now, I'm going to stay home with a long list of to-do items: clean the house and do some painting and sprucing up which I never had time for while I was working; finish up some courses toward qualifying for the CPA; exercise and lose some weight; and stitch my butt off!

The gang says "phew, we're glad the hustle-bustle is over!"

Happy week ahead!

December 19, 2010

Great Expectorations

I've been a sick, sick girl, in bed with the 'flu until today. Thank goodness I finally feel better. I'm virtually never sick--I probably go 4-5 years between colds, but this knocked me out, even though I had the flu shot. My friend, Liz, hearing my voice on the phone, said with authority (she has two boys), "You need an expectorant." We do not own such a thing, of course, and because there are no children/grandchildren, we have understocked medicine cabinets. We do not own potions and pills that normal families do: no cold medications, no vaporizer, no cough syrups, no anti-nausea medications, nothing, nothing, nothing.

I'm horrified at the date, considering I had barely started my Christmas shopping. Yesterday I tried to go out, but crept home after just two hours of local stuff, went back to bed at noon and slept until well after dark. Today I headed for Potomac Mills, feeling much better (anyone who lives in Nova is shaking their head at that bit of folly, but if you haven't been to Potomac Mills lately, they have some really good stores now) and it's a lot closer than going to Short Pump or Pentagon City. Besides, the other two malls have parking decks, and who knows whether another cement thingy might take another swing at me.

It was a traumatic week, what with the flu, the car crash (I still haven't got Mr. Aluminum Can back, and although I have a rental car, I really miss him), and quitting my job. It has been soothing to take up my stitching, and work on Catharine McNeal in between blowing my nose and napping.

Here's my overall progress:

Since I had to go to Woodbridge anyway, I stopped at Astoria Pizza and got this--it's about as much Christmas decor as I've been able to manage. Festive!

This photo is from two years ago at Christmas. Pink was not pleased at being dressed as the Christmas elf.

Off to finish decorating the tree and wrap some stuff! See you later in the week!

December 15, 2010

Crunch Time

No needlework today. I'm posting this for my sister, who is generally our pre-Christmas car cruncher, although to be fair, not for a number of years now. I drove through the metro station parking garage, a place I've driven a thousand times before, and hit a big concrete pylon type thing that has always been there, and which I have safely navigated around a thousand times before today. Peeled the car skin back just like the lid on a cat food can. I'm hoping the underlying engine stuff is ok, but there's no doubt there's quite a bit of damage. Even the experienced Allstate claims adjuster said "Wow!" to the damage. I had to tear some pieces off with my hands to pull them away from the tire so I could drive to the claims center. I have a rental car to drive. And either the 'flu, or one of the worst colds I've had in years, which may be why I miscalculated. Thank goodness I didn't hit another car--or a person. It is just stuff, even if it is an inconvenient bit of stuff to have out of commission.

Chester: "Did someone say 'catfood can?'"

December 12, 2010

Grand Illumination

Richmond has an event called the "Grand Illumination" each year where a two-square block area of the city is bedecked in lights. The highrise my company occupies and the one across the street host 50-60 illuminated deer, which are 2-3 times as a large as the deer you might buy for your own yard. The trees--oak, magnolia and pine--are also illuminated, along with lights that outline the highrises. It's quite enchanting at night. This is what it looks like in the early morning just before the lights are turned off for the day.

And a view of Rudolph after dark. I asked our building guard if they had any problems with people bringing guns into the city and target practicing on the deer. He said that sometimes kids with bb guns were a problem, but that the larger problem was that periodically someone would back a truck up to the displays and try to steel the deer.

Thanks to Nicole, my afternoon was disrupted and I have no photo to show you of my accomplishments this week. She showed the newest issue of Just Cross Stitch Magazine, something I rarely buy. But I fell in love with "Winter at Beacon House," and rushed out to buy my copy before the LNS closed. I love the sailing ship, the little rabits, the red alphabet and the little fish. It was meant to be: in my stash is the exact shade of Lakeside Linen used in the model, called winter sky. While the sampler calls for Gentle Art and Weeks, I did a conversion to silks. I can't wait to start it! Thanks, Nicole!

Here's another project from the same issue, by Donna Giampa, called "Frosty Woodland Pillow."

Something about this photo makes me think of snowballs:

Happy counting down to Christmas week ahead!

December 05, 2010

Crazy January Challenge and More

Put up your hands and wave your needles if you're planning to participate in the Crazy January Challenge where we will each start a new project each day for the 1st 15 days of January and will then try to finish those projects by the end of 2011. To the first part, I say, "no problem! Woohoo! I'm there!" To the second part, I say, "Ummmmm." I was contemplating it anyway, taking out my charts and cooing to them. But I need some supplies--some thread to kit them up, some fabrics--nothing too much. Along came the email from Ellen at In Stitches, offering to help all us 15-new-stitches stitchers out of the jam of insufficient supplies and charts, because she's going to be having a nice early bird event from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on December 27. Those of us arriving in our pajamas receive a special discount between 7 and 10 a.m. So I'm going to be looking for some new pajamas, since what I wear now is not exactly fit to be seen, and it gives me the heebie jeebies to think about driving 30 miles in my jammies--and get a flat tire.

I got a jump on the challenge (although this won't be one of my 15), by starting True Virtue Sampler, from the Samplar Workes. I'm stitching it in the recommended AVAS and Trebizond silks on 40 count Lakeside Examplar. Here's the project photo:

Here's some progress on it:

And a close-up of one of the stawberry blossoms, done in satin stitches. One of the odd-but-charming things about this sampler is the "offset" stitches. The flower stems are offset from the vine by one thread.

I haven't neglected Catharine Metcalf, and I got more leaves and fruits stitched:

We had a little bunny scare this week. Little Elvis appeared withdrawn and quiet, and he didn't seem to be eating last Monday night. Bunny owners know that a bunny that isn't eating is a bunny that isn't pooping either, and a bunny that isn't pooping is a bunny emergency. Bunnies don't throw up, and they can get a hair ball mass in their tummies that can kill them, and it's particularly likely in a long-hair breed. Because my bunnies are free range within their room, I couldn't tell whether he was or not, but after watching him anxiously, it appeared that nothing was going in or coming out. So we wrapped him up in a towel like a bunny burrito, and syringed into his mouth the only thing I had on hand (I'd used the emergency supply of papaya juice and pineapple juice that I normally keep for such things): Laxatone cat laxative. Unfortunately for Elvis, it was tuna flavored (although there is no tuna in it). It did the trick, though, and he was back to normal in no time.

"Next time put my tuna in a sandwich and serve it with plenty of lettuce and sprouts!"

Happy week ahead!

November 28, 2010

Sampler Houses

Lots of foliage. Again, I lost the light before I shot the photo.

I was out wandering through Fredericksburg with my camera, enjoying the fresh air today and taking photos of some of the homes in the historic district. I look for interesting sampler-type houses, particularly if they are dressed for Christmas. Let's start with this one, although it's not exactly dressed for Christmas. Perhaps it's dressed for Valentine's day or a really raucous New Year's--the kind where you need to get out the Pepto Bismol the next day. Yes--Pepto Bismol.

This is a very nice classical brick house with a nice metal roof. I think the wreath is too small though. I like the way the basement windows meet the sidewalk and have little half shutters, as if the whole thing is being swallowed by the earth.

Here's a cutie. There are several of these, painted different colors. This guy is maybe 15 feet wide

Pink wants to know what's wrong with having bright pink shutters--he thinks every house should have some pink.

Happy week ahead!

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Us!

Happy Thanksgiving, all! Instead of assembling scenery and props for the Rabbits' Annual Thanksgiving, I was snoring (lesson--when wanting to accomplish something, do not lie down for "just a few minutes to rest my eyes and think about the project.") Since today we're off to my sister's for dinner, there's no time, so we'll do it next year instead.

Here are some updated results of my holiday stitch butt--Catherine Metcalf. There are 66 flowers in the border. I don't object to the flowers, but I'm not liking the endless ropes of greenery that connect them. TWO colors of dark green and lots of little jutting twiggy things.

The tree of life is fun, but it is not entirely symmetrical, so I have to pay attention. I don't get to stitch a round yellow thingy on the left and then count over and repeat it on the right necessarily.

The Rabbit Peeps and I wish you a merry Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family and friends.

Give someone a little kiss.

And a snuggle.

And most of all--my favorite--spoil your dinner with snacks!

November 23, 2010

Up the Stairs, Down the Banister

Yesterday, the first weekday of my vacation, was all about the errand. So it was up to Arlington for bloodwork and a Dr.'s checkup and flu shot, then down to Alexandria for a little stop at In Stitches, then on to Fredericksburg for groceries and further on to Richmond to pick up my car since it inconveniently lost its transmission on the way to work last Tuesday a.m. Thankfully, the manufacturer covered most of the cost of the $3800 repair, even though my car is 8 years old. And I got to drive the nicest loaner in the meantime--not a small thing when you commute 130 miles a day.

I had the best time at In Stitches, and I purchased this. I've wanted to try needlepoint for a while, and they had this little painted canvas hanging up next to all the fibers, kitted up on a ring (so nice, since I don't know doodly about kitting up a needlepoint project and so clever of the ladies to make it so easy to succumb to temptation). Ellen gave me a quick tutorial on needlepoint technique (stitch up the stairs and down the banister) and off I went with my new project (and a half dozen skeins of AVAS for Catherine Metcalf). What a cutie:

I've started in the top right corner. I think I will frog out the brown on the right side and go with the color to the left of the teepee. I was up until nearly 2 a.m. doing this. See the sparkly snow?

And I didn't neglect Catherine Metcalf either.

And a little something I picked up from In Stitches also. I had heard good things about Bohin needles, and they're every bit as nice as I've heard. So silky smooth.

From Thanksgiving two years ago--Elvis having a little chat with a turkey.

See you Thursday for the third annual Rabbits' Thanksgiving.

November 21, 2010

Thankful for Vacation

Happy almost-Thanksgiving! I am on vacation this week, my sister is the cook on the day (I'm in charge of the cheese and olive platter and the deviled eggs), and I haven't planned much of anything for the week except for a doctor's appointment tomorrow, a little drive by In Stitches for more thread (I looked right at the instructions for purchasing thread, and did I even notice that some of the colors call for three skeins of AVAS and other colors require 2?) and a massive case of stitchy numb butt. I have been worn to a nub and didn't even blog last week because I had nothing to show--so rare! But I have a holiday tradition of starting something new to maintain, and here it is--Catherine Metcalf.

Not a great photo of the true colors of this sampler--I stitched away the day and then lost the light just as I got out the camera, so this is by lamplight. Scarlet Letter's Catherine Metcalf done on 40 count Lakeside in navy bean with AVAS threads.

Pink, taking the tag off a towel prior to chewing holes in the towel (bunny lace, we call it around here).

And from last year, the rabbits' Macy's day parade:

More pictures coming up later in the week--see you Thursday!

November 07, 2010

Fall Back

A local radio station did a survey of what people planned to do with their extra hour this weekend. I was going to stitch (not one of the categories), but I wound up napping instead (about 19% of respondents said they'd sleep) since I seem to be coming down with either a cold or a sinus infection. I worked some on Elizabeth Sheffield this week. The "strawberry" band is all over-one; the blue line beneath it is composed of eyelet stitches. I'm enjoying the heck out of this (as well as Mary Western).

The three buns decided they'd sleep, rather than watch a movie (13% of the radio listeners were going to watch a movie). Here are Peaches and Pink curled up for a nap--Elvis is just out of camera range, napping on the rug.

Happy week ahead!

October 31, 2010

Rhode Island

I like Rhode Island. I fly into TF Green Airport (so much easier than Logan in Boston) when I go to the Cape. Or I drive up 95 through Rhode Island. I always know I'm home when I see the VW-sized New England Pest Control bug perched on a rooftop from the highway near Providence.

(Photo borrowed from NE Pest Control.)

How can you fault a state that has a craggy, gorgeous coastline, the "cottages" of Newport, Narragansett Beer, the Rhode Island Reds (quick, tell me what sport, plus I think it was HAD the Rhode Island Reds) and the beautiful, classic Rhode Island samplers? (Also, for some reason, a large number of drivers who zoom along in the left lane and then cut across four lanes of traffic to take an exit. Really, I see it every time I drive through Providence. Why is that, RI readers, if there are any of you?) Here's a reproduction Rhode Island sampler, recently released by The Scarlet Letter. I dropped by In Stitches on Saturday, on the way back from taking our old-lady cat, Yazziebear, to the vet (a wonderful vet recommended by none other than Sampler Girl) (Thank you so much, Tanya--we love our new vet). I dropped by In Stitches since I had drive right by practically. Before I had even spun the "new charts" rack, Patricia said, "Have you seen the new Scarlet Letter?" I had, on SL's website. But I hadn't seen the large photo, so when I got it in my hands, I was sunk. (Thanks, Patricia--I get into so much more trouble with your help!) After kitting it up, I rushed home and started it. Behold, Elizabeth Sheffield:

Here's the interesting thing about stitching Elizabeth. You know that feeling you get when you want to see how the design's going to turn out, so you stitch "just one more color before bed" and before you know it, it's 3:00 a.m.? And that's WITH a photo of the project. This project's photo is of the original, antique sampler, with all its uneven-ness, some fading of the colors, and the slightly less than perfection that marks the original historic sampler. So it's extra enjoyable to stitch this and see the sampler emerge. I'm working on it on 40 count Lakeside Meadow Rue, which is a good bit darker than most of the linen I work with. I'm using AVAS, although it's also charted for DMC. The colors are a little off in this photo, because I shot it late in the afternoon as the light was going.

The "strawberry row" (the blue flower blob) is done over one, as is one of the alphabets and the people (but not the house) and some of the flowers that make up the border. The colors are incredibly vivid. I can't wait to get to the people--they should be fun to stitch.

Liz Sheffield is not my first Rhode Island sampler. Remember this? It's a reproduction by Vermillion Stitchery (now closed). I'm stalled on it because I was doing the conversion from cotton to silk on the fly, and ran into some difficulties coordinating and matching colors, so I set it aside. They share some design elements and characteristics, but I'd be pleased to hang them both.

And for the bunny folks, I wanted to share this photo to commemorate Tocktoberfest. Says Pink, "Trick or treat. Smell my feet!"

Happy week ahead, and happy Halloween!