Thursday, December 8, 2011

That Time Of Year

This is a very busy time of year for alot of us. We're trying to get the house decorated for Christmas, we have baking to do, and finishing to accomplish. With that in mind, I thought that I would start this post off with a quite moment. We could all use one, right? So, stop what you're doing, take a deep breath, and look at the colors of nature for a minute.

Pretty sunset, right? I took that the day after Thanksgiving while I was on the back deck grilling. I thought that the colors were so vivid that I could not pass up taking pictures of it so that I can take a look at them and slow down every now and then. Sometimes, that just the thing that we need.

The weekend after Thanksgiving weekend was spent getting our house decorated for the Christmas season. The tree is up, the lights are on the porch outside, my Christmas wall hangings are on the wall, and my ornament tree is showing off my bounty of finished beauties.

Actually, I told MJ that I needed a bigger tree because this one is not big enough for all of the stitched ornaments that I have. I wound up putting some of them on the big tree in the living room. Maybe next year.

Eve since M was about 3 years old I have done some sort of gingerbread thing with him. Either a house, or gingerbread men, or even a gingerbread Christmas tree. Then Z came along and as he got older he wanted to help with the decorating, too, which, as any parent can understand, leads to sibling arguments. One doesn't like how the other wants to decorate it. The quarreling over which candy decorations should go where. It can get tedious. I was wondering what I was going to do this year to try to alleviate that, when I walked into Michael's and the answer was staring right at me! A gingerbread kit with five little houses! And another kit with two mini gingerbread Christmas trees! The answer to my Christmas prayers! M and Z each got two houses and one tree to decorate any way they wanted. I got the fifth house so that no one could argue that one got more to decorate than the other. Brilliant!!

M trying to master the art of using a piping bag. He did not like that part at all!

Z and me with his finished products:

The last of the quilt squares for the baby quilt was finished last weekend, and since I have the material I wanted to make the quilt with I decided to start trying to put it together. I never use a pattern when I make these things. I lay it out in my head and get a pretty good idea of what I want it to look like, then I try to recreate that image on the actual quilt. Much easier said than done, I might add, but this one came out just how I wanted it to.

I just have to add the batting and the back and it will be all done and ready for Maggie Lorraine Yin Luo to come home to us sometime in early 2012.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lots Of Finishing Going On

I'm like alot of stitchers out there. I stitch on project after project. There is a never ending supply of things for me to work on. But, I have heard from alot of stitchers who say that their finished pieces end up in a big Rubbermaid tub or something like that, waiting to be framed or finished in some way. That is where I differ. I can't finish stitching something, and then just store it away until I decide what to do with it. There has been alot of finishing going on here lately, so if your ready for yet another picture heavy post, please follow me and read on!!

I finished stitching and beading the Halloween quadrielle with two days to go until the finishing class at the Lazy Daisy. Of all of the people who were at the class, I would say that roughly half of them were still stitching it while they were at the finishing class. I got it put together with the help of the staff at the Daisy, and it was not as hard as I thought it would be!!

The view of the cat side of the project:

And from the pumpkin side:

I had to hang it up high, or else Tiger the Wonder Kitty would just love to get his little paws on all those ribbons and munch on them for a tasty snack.

The Minnie Mouse square for the baby quilt is done:

She was supposed to be bordered in this garish orange, and it just looked weird. I didn't like it at all, so I picked a pretty lavender that I thought would go nicely. It came out much nicer.

This afternoon I was rooting around in my stash closet and I remembered that I still had to finished the Mickey and Minnie ornaments that I made, so I grabbed the supplies for those and plopped myself down in the middle of the floor in my den and tried to figure out how to finish these off.

I had a rough idea what I wanted them to look like, but getting what I wanted actually out of my head is a totally different thing. They are actually not that far off from what I was thinking of.

The best finish of the last few few weeks was one that I didn't even actually do the finishing on! My Nativity table runner came home to me!

I sent it off to Sarah, my cousin's wife, to do the finishing work on this one. I could probably have done it myself, but not nearly as good as Sarah could, and I wanted this future family heirloom done right! I am so thrilled with it! She did a fantastic job on and it I can't wait to have it grace my Christmas table this year!

And, along the way, I created a new stitcher. Sarah became intrigued with stitching after seeing my table runner, and she called me for advice. She went to the craft store and bought herself one of those small Christmas ornament kits. She got it done in a couple of nights, and has already made a trip to the LNS that she has in her area.

Bwaaaahahahahahaha!!!! My evil plan of populating the world with stitchers is coming together!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

What I Did With My Sunday Afternoon

Happy Monday!! The kids are in school, the husband is at work, and the house is quiet. It's not a bad way to start the week.

I was working on the Halloween quadrielle the other day and realized that I messed it up. You would think that as a 40-something year old mother I would be able to count. Really, what is so hard about counting? Apparently, I need to go back to school because my counting is off on the third square. There is supposed to be a spider web in the corner, like the one in the first square, but it's not going to fit because the pumpkin is over to the right two stitches too many. I'm not quite sure how I managed that, but I did.

In disgust I put the project aside because I have to figure out how I am going to adapt the web to fit. Adaptation is not my strong point. I have to get back to it, though, because the finishing class is in less that two weeks and I have to get the stitching done before then. Sigh.

Is anyone out there thinking about Christmas? I have to start making my list of who I have to buy for and what I want to get them, plus the kids are telling me every other day, "For Christmas I want this," or "For Christmas I want that." I tell them every time they tell me something new that they need to write it down and make a list because if they tell me in passing conversation they have about as much of a chance of me remembering what they want as a snowball has...well, you know the saying.

I (finally) sent the table runner off to my cousin's wife for finishing. Sarah let me know on Saturday that it got there and that she is going to start working in it. When I asked her if she would help me I offered to pay her for her time, but she flat out refused that, saying that we are family and you don't charge family. Well, I wanted to do something to thank her for the help she is giving me, so I thought that I would make her this:

Sarah is an AWESOME baker and around the holidays she bakes and bakes and bakes like there is no tomorrow. When her brother was in Iraq she used to package up Christmas cookies and ship them off to him so that he could enjoy a taste of home while he was overseas. As a thank you I thought I would make her this ornament. Actually, I think I'm going to make it twice: once for Sarah and once for me. Well, that's the plan, anyway. We'll see what I actually get accomplished, but this one will be for her. I have fabric for this with gingerbread men on it that will be perfect for the finishing!

What did I do with my Sunday, besides watch the New York Giants? I pulled out my sewing machine and did a little finishing.

Both of these are LHN ornaments from last year that I stitched, and never finished off. I have one more that I stitched this year that needs to be finished, but when I looked through my scrap box of fabric nothing seemed to go with it. Looks like I will have to make a trip to the fabric store!

As I said in my last post, I am going to be an aunt again, which means that it's time to pull out the baby quilt squares. These are the ones that I finished:

I think that I'm going to re-do Mickey, though. Originally, his border was supposed to be stitched in pink, but at the time I was not sure if I was making this quilt for a boy or a girl, and I was not crazy about the pink, so I changed it to blue. Now that I know that this will be for a niece, and not a nephew, I'm not crazy about the blue. I'm still not crazy about the pink that was supposed to be used, so I'm thinking about purple.

I started the next square, which will be Minnie Mouse.

She's getting there.

I can never seen to the leave the pandas alone for too long lately. I enjoy working on them. I'm on page 16. Only 53 more to go!!

There is a spot on the fabric. Somehow I got orange highlighter on it and I swear that the spot is staring up at me. Laughing! I know that I will eventually stitch over it (that's the great thing about HAED patterns), but I'm still thinking about dabbing it with a little bleach so I don't have to look at it. Or rather, have it looking up at me!

It's time to get started with my week. Have a good one!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Have Lots Of Obessions

I'm sure that I'm like alot of people out there that go through phases about things. I am like that with my nails. I've always been blessed with nice fingernails. Even when I was a teenager (many many moons ago!) I had nice nails. Now that I'm older with two kids, I go through phases about taking care of them. I can go for months without thinking twice about them, and then I can suddenly decide that I need to take care of them, almost obsessively. And I LOVE fun colors. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of reds, pinks, and peaches, and I love them, but then there are what I like to call the "my mother would turn over in her grave if she saw me wearing this polish" colors. I guess since I feel like I am a mother with two kids about the only adventure I get is a wild nail polish color! I bought this at Target the other day.

It's called Texture Polish and this one is made by Nicole by OPI. It's silver over a cobalt blue polish. It's really cool because when you put the silver on it goes on smooth, but as it dries it separates and gives that crackle effect. Last night I was not so sure about it, but I have to say that it's growing on me this morning. It's definitely different.

In my last post I was questioning whether or not I'm actually getting anything accomplished. I felt like I had too many things going at once to get anything done. Well, it turns out that I actually am getting things accomplished:

These are the initials for the treasure boxes for my nieces' birthdays:

J for Juliet:

R for Rebecca:

I think it actually took me longer to chart out the letters that it did to stitch then. Each one was finished in about two hours. I like those kinds of projects!!

You know how when you are so close to finishing something that it's all that you work on so that you can get it done? That was what I was doing this past week in an attempt to get Minnie Mouse finished.

Don't they make a cute couple?

Now I just have to finish them off. I bought Mickey Christmas fabric at Joanne Fabrics a while ago, so it's time to dig it out.

Now that I got these projects done and out of the way it's time to go back to the other things that I've started. The candy cane ornaments have to be worked on and the LHN ornament has to be worked on. So do the pandas and the sampler letter.

Soon I will also have to dig the quilt squares for the baby quilt back out. I found out last week that I am going to be an aunt again! My brother-in-law and sister-in-law, John and Amy, have been working on adopting again from China (they have two biological boys and one daughter that was adopted from China in 2005) and called last week to let me know that they have been placed with a baby. They are still talking about names, but she is coming home to us in the next 6 to 8 months. I had actually started the quilt squares for my other sister-in-law, but there is no sign of a baby yet and Amy saw them and said that she really like them so, the ones that I have finished will go to John and Amy's new daughter (I can't really call her a "baby" because she's going to be two years old in January) and when my other sister-in-law is expecting I will re-do them for her.

I love happy endings!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Am I Getting Anything Accomplished?

I have a friend who rejoices in reminding me on the 25th of evey month exactly how many months there are until Christmas is actually upon us. And on that day every month I take stock on what Christmas stitching I have actually accomplished this year. While I am WAY ahead of what I did last Christmas, which was very little, I have not gotten much done.

I think that a bigt part of my problem is that I have too many things started at once. I'm not like alot of stitchers out there who can have many WIPs going at once. For me, that is overwhelming. I feel like I have too many things to work on and I can't decide what to pick up, so I end up stitching on nothing at all. Not good, I know. That's why I try to keep my WIP load to three or four, at the most, one of which is usually a big project. That way when I get tired of the big one, I can work on one or two of the small ones and I feel like I am actually working on things and finishing them.

Let's take stock. What do I have going at the moment?

The HAED Pandas;
The HAED Sampler Letter;
A Minnie Mouse ornament;
An LHN ornament;
The candy cane ornaments;
and the Halloween Quadrielle.

Somewhere along the line my stitching rotation grew.

Maybe the new television shows will be of some help. I like to stitch at night while I watch t.v. and have found Pan Am, Terra Nova, and A Person Of Interest are great stitching shows!

I love this little box! The inside is line with velvet and the top has an open space for whatever you want to add to it.
This was the panda that was supposed to be on the baby quilt before I changed directions on that project, and I have been wondering how I was going to use it. This one is mine, but then I had a great idea. I have two nieces with birthdays right around Christmas, and I thought that this would make a great birthday gift for a little girl! I am going to stitch their initial in their favorite color and put that in the top. What could be better than your own, personalized treasure box? I would have loved that as a kid!

From my ever increasing list of works in progress is Minnie:

She's getting there, but she's taking a while, or so it seems to me.

Last year LHN put out a Christmas ornament a month and I bought all of them. And they sat in my stash and did nothing. I'm trying to rectify that this year. This is one of the new ones from this year, but I loved it! When I think of Christmas, not only do I think about the family and friends that we share the day with, but I think about the food and, more importantly, the desserts!

I might actually make this one twice. I think that I am going to send this one to my cousin who is going to help me finishe the Nativity table runner. She does not want me to pay her for her time, and she is a magnificent baker. I thought that this would make a nice thank you for her help.

Can you see the outline of the pegasus wing on the Sampler Letter?

This piece is really strange. While I'm working on it I never really see what I'm stitching. Well, obviously, I can see what I'm stitching, but I don't see the big picture, if you will. It's usually after I stop working on it, take it out of the hoop and take a good, long look at what I've stitched that I can see it in its entirety. And I am usually pretty excited about what I see!

I think for me, that is one of the best parts of stitching. Seeing the whole project take shape from day to day. I love that. Being, not only to make something, but to appreciate the steps that it took to make it all along the way.

It's Monday, the start of another week. Hopefully, I will get something accomplished. Have a good week and I hope you get some stitching time in!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Holidays Are Coming!

It's been a busy two weeks here since I last posted, with lots to show. If you're ready for a picture heavy post, read on!!

For those of you who do not know it, I am a foodie. I like lots of different foods and I love to try new recipes. Now that you know this fact about me, I have to admit that I have an absolute favorite food. Ice cream!! I will by pass cookies, cakes, brownies, pretty much any other dessert in order to have some ice cream. Growing up there was always ice cream in the house, and when we were little going to Carvel or Baskin Robbins for a frozen treat was a big family outing. So, when I was browsing a stitching group that I belong to on Facebook and someone posted that she was working on a HAED called "Sundae Delight" I have to admit that I my interest was piqued. Sundae, with that spelling? That means ice cream!

Once I took one look, it was all over. I had to have it! It came in the mail the other day, but I will be strong and will not start it yet. I am thinking that I will wait until I get my holiday stitching done.

Speaking of holiday stitching, there seems to be alot of that going on around here lately. Shall we start with Halloween, since it's the closest?

The Halloween quadrielle that I started at the LNS almost two weeks ago is half way done.

I am enjoying this one alot, but I have a major complaint about it. It's a kit that uses DMC floss. Great, right?, not really. There are three shades of orange and three shades of green, all of which are only a shade or two apart from each other, and all of which had to be separated. There was no indication how many strands of each color we were supposed to have. To be honest, when we started the project at the shop we spent more time trying to separate the floss colors than we stitched that morning. This is the BIG reason I don't do alot of kits.

Once we got the flosses separated into the right colors (at least we think we did) the stitching has moved along pretty quickly and it's really a cute design. I can't wait to finish the stitching and put it together.

Anyone out there working on Christmas things? This seems to be the time of year that I start ornaments. I got very few done last year and I want to change that this year. So far, I seem to be off to a good start.

I saw these cute little candy cane ornaments in The Stitchery catalogue and I thought they were just what I wanted to work on this year.

I think that I am going to make one for M and one for Z and add their names to it so they each have their own candy cane from Mom. Yes, this was a kit, but at least it was easy to separate the floss colors!

Last year I bought all of the LHN ornaments that they put out. And did I stitch any? Well, I stitched two, but did nothing with them. So that left 10 sitting in my stash, doing absolutely nothing. I pulled out this little snowman to work on.

I got it almost done in a short amount of time. The Christmas tree needs some beads, but I don't have enough of them, so when I head out to the LNS tonight I will pick them up and get this one finished.

The Mickey Mouse ornament is finished! I just love it! Well, I love pretty much anything Mickey, so should we be surprised that I love this?

The red beads were actually supposed to be French knots, but, as we all know, French knots are just not my specialty, so I added the red beads. Much easier for me, and they add a little bit of something pretty to it. I bought adorable Disney Christmas fabric to finish it with, so once I start the Minnie ornament I will finish them both.

Yesterday I had to clear my whole day for the oil burner repair man. They gave me a window when the guy would be here to fix the burner: between 8 and 6! Really? The whole day is my window? So, since I had to plan to be home I decided to spend my time becoming reacquainted with my sewing machine.

Last year I managed to stitch these Christmas trees, but like the ornaments, I did nothing with them. When I was struggling last year these were good for me to stitch because they were one color and required very little deep thought. I had even bought the fabric to make the wall hanging, and it sat there on top of my sewing table, doing nothing. That changed yesterday.

I forgot how much I love using my sewing machine. It was nice to be reminded.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September Is A Beautiful Month!

Well, for the most part it is, anyway. September brings the start of school. Both M and Z made it through the first week and now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty of the new school year. M came home on the first day and told me that other kids said that his science teacher is supposed to be really mean, but he said to me that he didn't thing that she was. I told him, "It's only the first day of school. She hasn't had anything to get mean about yet!"

This morning my friend, Christine, and I went to Lazy Daisy for a class that the owner was running. The project is called a "quadrielle". I've seem them, but I've never done one before, mostly because I take one look at it and get intimidated about putting it together. When she offered the class we jumped in.

The one for the class is by The Sweetheart Tree and it's a Halloween quadrielle. We started working on the stitching in the shop today and we have to have the stitching finished by October 29, which is when we take it back to the shop for assembly. Whip stitch? How the heck to I do that?

This is the first square. It still needs backstitching and some beading. We'll have to see how this comes out. Maybe if someone walks me through it I will be able to do it successfully!

The HAEDs are never out of my mind for long, either. Sampler Letter is really starting to look like a P!

Page 15 of the pandas with lots more blues:

Think someday I might actually finish this?

Tomorrow is the 1oth anniversary of September 11. M has been talking about this in his social studies class and he came home the other day and asked me what I remember about that day. I told him, "Everything." I told him that he saw all of it unfold right along with me because I was not working on that day and we were together with lots of errands to run that day. I remember being in my car listening to ABC news being simulcast on the radio and a reporter telling Peter Jennings that the South Tower was gone and I remember him asking the reporter, "What do you mean it's gone? What happened?" I had a hair appointment that day, and I remember sitting in the hair dresser's chair when the North Tower fell. The man who cuts my hair was devastated because he had just lost his father and his father was one of the many electricians that did the wiring for the towers when they were being built. He felt like he was losing a piece of his father all over again.

I remember hearing that a plane crashed in the Pentagon and that a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. I could not comprehend what was happening to us. When my alarm went off the next morning I remember thinking to myself, "Maybe it was all a very bad dream," but as soon as I heard the DJ's on the radio talking I knew that it had not been a dream. It was real and we had alot of work ahead of us if we were going to get through it.

The people who attacked us that day had very dark souls. While they succeeded in bringing down the towers and in ending the lives of thousands of innocents on that day, I am proud to say that they did not crush us. Our spirit was bruised, but we are recovering. Today there are memorials to the deceased in the footprints of the fallen towers, and New York is building a new tower in lower Manhattan. It will be the tallest building in the United States when it's completed.

I am proud to be an American. No terrorist can ever take that away from me.