Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stitching goals for the new year

It's that time of year again--time to consider what I've done for the year and plan what I'd like to do next year. This year was mostly devoted to finishing WIPs that I no longer loved, and I think I went overboard. I didn't enjoy my stitching as much, so I'm giving myself a rest for next year. I think finishing Magnificent Wizard, which is for my husband, will be enough of a goal for 2012.

Finished in 2011:
  • Gingerbread Stitching House
  • Gingerbread Tree Etui
  • Maggie the Messmaker
  • Rose Quilt
  • Skeleton Crew
  • Chatelaine Easter 2011 Freebie
  • Afraid of the Dark
  • By the Full Moon
  • Just a Little Autumn
  • Fa La La La La
  • Various band sampler round robin pieces
Works in progress:
  • Magnificent Wizard
  • A Fish Tale
  • Snow Faerie
  • HAED Eternal Promise
  • Zelda's Fancy Hat
I also did a bit of crocheting. I finished a scarf and a hedgehog, which I've been meaning to do for a while. I want to learn to knit too.

I started quilting a bit this year and began my first quilt, a small Halloween quilt. I'd like to finish that too this year. It's time to learn new things!

Oh, and I'm 42! :-o

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Supernatural romance novels

Missy Ann turned me on to supernatural romance novels, and my reading habits haven't been the same since. I never thought I would like supernatural stories set in the modern day, but they're much better than when I last tried them in the 1980s. Go figure.

So here's my plea. I'm running out of authors, or at least ones my library has. I have a Kindle, but at the rate I chew up these novels, I can't afford to buy them all. Below is a list of authors I've read. Can you suggest any other good authors I should try? Thanks in advance for any help!

Stacia Kane
Ilona Andrews
Gail Carriger
Meljean Brook
J.R. Ward
Nalini Singh
Laurel K. Hamilton
Charlaine Harris
Keri Arthur
Jim Butcher
Karen Marie Moning
Kim Harrison
Patricia Briggs

Liked and still in progress reading:
Kresley Cole
Eileen Wilks
Laura Ann Gilman
Rachel Caine
Diane Gabaldon

Didn't like:
Sherilynn Kenyon

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas box exchange

I'm finally getting around to posting a photo of the exchange I did for Edgar for Hooked on Exchanging's Christmas box exchange. The piece is Fa La La La La by Lizzie Kate. I do exchanges because I really enjoy the giving aspect of it. It's so much fun to put a package together.

More pics on my website.

Skeleton Crew HD

This year I've devoted myself to finishing old, unloved WIPs, and while I've made significant progress, I also haven't enjoyed my stitching as much (more on that when I give my year-end wrap-up). My problem with this piece was definitely the fabric. First, I didn't get the 40 count recommended. I just assumed I knew what I was doing (big mistake) and got 28 count. That made the piece huge, and it could have been so much cuter on a higher count. That's not the deal breaker; the fact that the fabric is Wichelt is. I hate how loosely woven the fabric is--see-through and so easy to deform. I know some people like Wichelt, but it's definitely not for me. Add in my horrible Gripit stand, which doesn't handle big scroll frames well because I have to use a clamp, and you have a piece I hated to stitch on, even though it's such a cute piece (in a creepy way). I'm going to do my best not to make this mistake again.

So if you've seen a negative cast to my posts this year, you might be able to understand why. I'm going to try to work on more pieces I love this year, listen to what gets me excited to stitch. Sometimes my dutiful self gets in the way of that, and I'm going to try to lock her up for a while. :)

I hope you had a great holiday. We've been having a nice, quiet few days off at home. Matt bought me Victoria Sampler's Mermaid Song, and my mom gave me enough Christmas money to buy a new K's Creations floor stand. Yay!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Band Sampler Round Robin -- Rainbow

Jo's round robin theme is the rainbow, as you can tell. I stitched the bottom portion in indigo. I took bands from Jeannette Douglas' Mini Topiary Sampler 4 and used Dinky Dyes Fantasy Blues as my variegated floss. I stitched this twice -- the first time I didn't like how the outer edges lined up. I guess I should have planned better.

I hope everyone is having a good holiday season. My mom is retiring after this month, and I'm counting the days. Still no progress on getting the house sold. I think we've had one person look at the house this month. We're hoping things pick up in the spring, but it's not encouraging.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

HOE Christmas box received

I received this lovely box from Faye. The piece is by Primrose Needleworks. It's very delicate looking (stitched on a small count) and so adorable. I love cardinals, so this was perfect for me.

I need to post pictures of the box I sent out. I'm suffering with a sinus infection at the moment, so that will have to come later. I hope you're having a good December so far!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I finally ordered the nose to finish up this little guy. Staring at me with the bug eyes. (We just watched Ghostbusters again -- amazing how many of our family sayings come from that movie.)

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! I played Glitch, started playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, and am cutting out fabric for my first quilt. Oh, and I finished up the Harry Dresden books. Quite a break.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Halloween fob received from Ina

I received this beautiful Halloween fob from Ina for our exchange on Hooked on Exchanging. I like the big spider charm on the back too. I'm not sure why I like cute Halloween items so much, but it was a thrill to receive this!

I'm working on a Christmas box exchange right now. It's giving me a few minor fits, but I'm sure I can work through it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My first scarf in a long time

When I was a teenager, I crocheted my dad a black scarf. He was a policeman, and it was about the only color he could wear without looking odd. :-) Being in the South, we don't really need to wear scarves (unless you're a policeman who has to go out in every kind of weather), so I've never worn one. I think I'll wear this one. I love purple, and the yarn feels great, soft and nubby.

The yarn is one of the items I bought at the Houston Quilt Show. Jo at Dinky Dyes had one skein of purple yarn, so I had to make the scarf skinny to get it long enough.

Speaking of the show, here's what I bought:
  • a skein of Dinky Dyes yarn
  • a fat quarter of batik fabric (for an exchange)
  • 6 large squares of Irish wool (no idea what I'm going to use them for)
  • a star thread keeper (for an exchange)
  • a measuring tape in a small tin (for an exchange)
  • a marking pen that fades after ironing (for an exchange)
  • a small container of hand cream (for an exchange)
  • a small purse with a horse on it
  • a Drawn Thread chart, Almost Halloween
  • a knotwork chart, Eeek!
  • an Erica Michaels silk gauze chart, Second Spring

I went with my mom and friend Amanda and had a great time. I'm inspired to quilt now, so my mom and I are going to work on a quilt for Logan. It has cars, buses, and trucks on it.

This past weekend was Camp Stichalot, put on by Ginger's. I was shy at first but opened up as the weekend progressed. I had a great time--more so for the people than the stitching because I didn't bring anything I was anxious to stitch. Silly me. The Austin Comic Con was also this past weekend, which is why I only got to spend Thursday through Saturday noon at the retreat. I'm hoping to go to the retreat in March too. The Compass Centre is really nice. Great food and nice facilities.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My fall pin keep exchange

Sandra was my partner for the fall pin keep exchange. I mailed this piece, Just a Little Autumn by San-Man Originals, back in August. I was really worried that it had gotten lost. Whew! So glad it made it to Barbados safely.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween exchange

Amy was my partner for the Halloween scissor fob exchange, and she let me know that she received it (and liked it!). I stitched By the Full Moon by Ink Circles from last year's JCS Halloween issue. I stitched it over one and used some DMC Light Effects for the cording (more pics). I kept a pair of those Steweb scissors for myself too!

I'm currently working on Skeleton Crew again. I'm reminded why I hate Wichelt fabric--the fibers are too thin, and the weave is too loose. You can see through the thing like it's cheese cloth.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chatelaine Rose and Butterfly Quilt pics

We finally managed to take pics of this humongous piece today. As you can see, there's a little wave to the fabric, but it's the best we could do. I have photos of the individual blocks too (graphics-intensive page).

Halloween giveaways on their way

I've selected winners for my Halloween giveaway and will be mailing those out tomorrow. I'll link to photos of the prizes so the winners can decide if they want to be surprised.

Giovanna won the spider cupcake giveaway.

Zeb, Tatyana, and Katri won the Blue Ribbon Designs giveaway. I say won, but they were the only ones to enter. Rather a letdown that so few entered, but I hope they like the piece and enjoy the package. They each get one of the packages pictured, and they'll have to be surprised about which one they get. The little lampwork beads are so neat to me, but I couldn't figure out a good use for them. Can you?

Thanks to all those who entered and read my blog regularly. It makes me happy that someone is interested in the little things I write here, and I appreciate it more than you know. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Gingerbread Tree Etui HD

I finished the Victoria Sampler tree, and I just love it. Can you believe it only took a month, start to finish? I can spot flaws, of course, but overall it came out well. You can see more pics on my website. I have the chart for the church, but I'm going to do a little Halloween stitching first. Don't forget to sign up for my Halloween giveaway of a stitched piece and goodies!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Halloween giveaway

Inspired by Annette and Melissa's giveaways last year, I'm doing one myself this year. Or rather a few. So that they make it to the winners in time, I'll do them all at once. One batch is from a Blue Ribbon Designs piece, and one is my spider cupcake I posted about a while back. I'll also include some goodies. If you'd like to enter, please email me at, put "Halloween giveaway" in the subject line, and tell me which drawing you'd like to enter (you can enter both but can only win one). You have through Monday. Comments will not be considered an entry but are welcome. :)

And happy Halloween!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pincushion HD

I finished the pincushion that goes with my Victoria Sampler Gingerbread Tree Etui. I think I stuffed it a bit too much, but I'm happy with it. I just have the scissor case to stitch, and then I can start on the assembly of the tree. The page I linked to above has photos of the tree before assembly and a closeup of the roses.

The move: We've gotten the house in pretty good shape, and it's going on the market tonight. After the fires in Bastrop, the housing market has seen an upsurge, so now is the time for us to sell, even though we didn't fix everything we had planned to. We'd like to move to Austin to be closer to work. Mixed emotions about selling our first house together.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Roses from the Gingerbread Tree

I've been diligently stitching on my Gingerbread Tree Etui, a cyberclass from the Victoria Sampler. I love seeing Thea and watching her complete the stitches. Unfortunately I had to watch them after the live class since we went to the Hyatt on the first weekend and Sea World on the second weekend. Still, it's been a lot of fun, and I've finished stitching the four tree sides. Here you can see the roses on the four sides, each made with a different kind of stitch. I still need to bead the tree and stitch the scissor pocket before I can start assembling it. There's also a little pincushion I need to stitch.

I'm so looking forward to having this one sit next to my Gingerbread House. My chart for the church came in today too! They use a black linen for the roof, but I'm thinking of switching that to a dark brown.

Oh hey, and I think I finally found the magic button on my camera to make my closeups actually look clear!

Fall pin keep received from Sandra

I received this beautiful pin keep from Sandra. It's Fall Motif from Measure of a Year by Prairie Schooler, stitched on 28-count beige Jobelan. I love the way she finished it, with some of the cute backing fabric on the front too.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Gingerbread House HD

I finally finished putting together my Victoria Sampler Gingerbread House! See more pics of the house, biscornu, fob, and scissor case. I've had it stitched for a while, but I put off the finishing until I had completed Rose and Butterfly Quilt--I didn't have enough room to have both of them out at the same time. The finishing was very time consuming and had a lot of steps, but it wasn't that hard. The instructions were good, and there wasn't anything terribly tricky (much better than the Just Nan Trick-or-Treat box I put together). I'm very pleased with the results--so cute! I also redid the scissor fob that I wasn't happy with. I figured out what I had done wrong--I assumed the outline was over four threads like on the house--wrong. I also special-ordered some two-ply matboard, which made the piece thinner. Much better!

I finished this just in time to start working on the Victoria Sampler Gingerbread Tree Etui. The class for that is tomorrow, and I've been scrambling to get some preparatory stitching done on it. I'm looking forward to it. We had a trial run this morning, and Thea Dueck is great. I'm also planning to get the Gingerbread Church, but I figure I'll order it after I finish the tree.

I had planned to take a photo of Rose and Butterfly Quilt by now, but I need to get the other two adults to help me. On the day I was about to do it, the wind really picked up. That was also the day the fires started.

Texas fires: In case you hadn't heard, much of Bastrop burned. We were very worried for a while, but we look safe now. I had all my finished cross stitch pieces boxed up and waiting to evacuate. Logan's daycare hasn't reopened, so we're having to work with him at home. Not easy, I can tell you!

Anniversary: Matt and I have been married for eight years today. Best decision ever!

Diet: At long last, I'm back on track. As much as I hate eating protein, I decided to go on the South Beach Diet. It has really worked. My appetite is down to nothing, and I stuck to the diet even through all the stress of the fires. I've tried South Beach before and had mixed success. I don't remember it cutting the hunger this much. It could be the combination of the diet and the Lap-Band, I guess. I've lost 53 pounds total now. Though I have a long way to go, I'm dreaming of skinny days!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Band Sampler Round Robin - Sweetheart Tree

This is Karen's piece. She chose Sweetheart Tree as her theme for the band sampler. I loved stitching on this with all the pinks and green. (Excuse the poor photo. I don't know why I can't get my expensive camera to actually focus.)

I also finished Rose and Butterfly Quilt! The beading took forever and wasn't my favorite. I need to get some helpers to help me take the piece outside and try to get a decent picture.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Still going

I'm still working on the beading of Rose and Butterfly Quilt. There's a lot of it, probably more than in any piece I've stitched. Oh, and after I had beaded the middle block, the one with my initials, I realized that the designer didn't center the motif. It should have been moved to the right one or two stitches. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it looks odd once you notice it. And of course now that I've noticed it, I can't NOT see it. Argh! That will teach me to look objectively at a design before I stitch it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Linda's round robin

Here's the section I stitched on Linda's Drawn Thread piece for our Band Sampler round robin. I took sections from Summer Arbor. Fun!

I also finished the stitching on Rose and Butterfly Quilt. I'm working on the beading, but I ran out of Nymo. The beading is rather annoying to me, but I can't wait to have the piece finished so I can move on to something else. I enjoyed working on it, but enough already.

The health thing: So I got an ear infection and couldn't hear for more than two weeks. I also had to go to the ER because of severe abdominal pain (think almost passing out) and bleeding. They didn't find anything seriously wrong with me, so I guess I'm OK. No food poisoning or infections. Oh, and it was fun trying to explain to everyone that in addition to being sick, I couldn't hear what they were telling me very well. That's what you want when you have needles stuck in you and have to do things for the tests. Huh, what?!

On the weight front, the doc has put me on Wellbutrin in an attempt to treat the carb addiction. It works for smokers, so why not? I'm not eating a lot, but I'm eating junk and can't seem to stop. It's worked pretty well for the month I've been on it. If nothing else, it's giving me enough energy to work on the house. Working your butt off makes you lose weight too!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Autumn RR

Here's the piece I did for our autumn round robin. (If you're interested in doing a future RR, check the bulletin board.) The other five members will each add about 1.5 inches worth of bands following the autumn theme. My bands are from the Trilogy's Autumn Line Up. I will add bands to the other members' pieces too. Their themes are Teresa Wentzler's borders, Just Nan, Sweetheart Tree, the Drawn Thread, and the rainbow. Our first mail date is July 5. I'm looking forward to stitching on everyone's pieces!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rose Quilt block 15

The end is in sight! One square left, and then it's on to the beading. I'm not looking forward to the beading, I must admit, though it will be nice to see the effect.

Matt and I are working on the house so we can put it on the market. This has been cutting into my stitching time, unfortunately, not to mention the fact that all my craft supplies are boxed up while we move furniture around in my bedroom.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gingher Elena scissors

I went to Ginger's in Austin today. I found a pair of Gingher Elena scissors, which I've been looking for for a a while. I'm so excited about this! If you need a pair, you can call Monday to get one: (512) 454-5344. She had three left. Let me know if you plan buy to one. If no one's interested, I'll post to the bulletin boards to get them sold.

So the rest of the haul... I was there ostensibly to pick up the two-ply mat board I need to finish my Victoria Sampler gingerbread house. I also picked up some beige Jobelan for a fall band sampler (sign up for the band sampler round robin here by June 15), the Trilogy's Autumn Line Up chart to go with the round robin for inspiration, and two JBW Designs Christmas ornament charts. Now I'm not much into stitching Christmas ornaments, but Ginger's had a JBW Designs trunk show, and the ornaments stitched over one are just adorable. I couldn't pass them up.

Matt and Logan played with the toys Ginger's has brilliantly put aside for that purpose, and I had myself a blast. I had so much fun knowing that I could buy what I wanted within reason. We still have tons of debt, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. It makes a world of difference. Now to not add too much to that debt...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm famous!

I showed off my ladybug adaptation in a comment on the DMC site, and they reposted it. I'm famous! :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rose and Butterfly Quilt block 14

This block took a little longer because of vacation and my addiction to Laurell K. Hamilton (more on that later). The basket didn't have any backstitching in the chart, like the instructions and the other three baskets prove that it should. I asked Martina, and she said to just use the other baskets as a reference if I wanted to backstitch it. I wasn't quite happy with that answer (which is also what she said to do about the antenna for the third butterfly) -- I felt the chart should be corrected -- but I got it done. I did restitch the butterfly's antennae, and I like them better now.

Laurell K. Hamilton: I read her Merry Gentry series first, and there's sex all over the place. I then read her Anita Blake series, which began much more tame, though still violent. Then eventually this series began to be about sex all over the place, with multiple men. They say that what you write reveals more about yourself than about the characters. If so, then wow. The strange thing is that I can find many flaws in the books and really would like more story than sex, but I really want to know what happens to her characters. They're fascinating. I guess that's the proof of a good author. One more book from the library and then I have to wait on her to come out with new ones.

Cupcake critters

I made the spider pincushion recently from a DMC pattern. It was the first time I had used memory thread (basically thick thread with a copper wire inside). I like it! (Matt had to point out that this is not a spider but a harvestman since it doesn't have a separate head and abdomen.) Oh, and I'll be giving away a spider pincushion in October, along with some other goodies.

I adapted the pattern to make the ladybug pincushion for my mom's friend, who's crazy about ladybugs. I think the trickiest part is finding a ribbon or cording to go around the piece. The surface is uneven -- the top is taller than the bottom, so a ribbon with no stretch just kind of hangs there unattractively.

Vacation: We recently went to Galveston and stayed at a nice (but expensive) hotel on the beach for the weekend. We finally found a vacation Logan enjoyed! We went to the Rainforest Cafe. For those of you who have never been, the restaurant is jungle themed and has animatronic animals that go off at set times. The first time the monkeys started moving, Logan clapped his hands over his eyes and refused to remove them. I was very disappointed because I love this kind of thing and hoped he would too. He eventually watched the show and even enjoyed it. Outside, a volcano spit flames and smoke, which was awesome. The food's mediocre and overpriced, but you go there for the show, not the food. We also went to Moody Gardens and saw the aquarium, which Logan actually paid attention to (unlike Sea World the previous year when he was two and a half). We took a paddlewheel ride around the bay; that took too long to hold his attention. He really enjoyed the beach and playing in the sand with his toys, even though he had to wear a jacket because it was cold -- yes, Texas in May. Weird. He didn't want to go in the water, so I carried him and waded into the waves up to mid-thigh. He clung to me like a monkey so he could watch the waves. I wish we could have stayed longer.

My husband the engineer: Matt finished his last class and is now an electrical engineer. He starts his new job tomorrow. I am so proud of him. It's not easy going back to school. I can see why he couldn't manage working 60+ hours a week and going to school. School alone took all of his time. It's nice to have my husband back. Even doing housework together is fun.

Promotion for me: I'm getting a promotion at work and will be a supervisor again. I haven't been a supervisor for about eight years because I'm a full-time telecommuter. Work is going to try to get me an office in Austin, but it's still not the same city as the people I supervise. Challenging but not impossible!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rose Quilt block 13

Not far now! I went back and added the antennae to the last butterfly I did. Martina said she had forgotten to give him any.

We're going on vacation this weekend to Galveston. I've been agonizing about what stitching to take with me. I don't want to take anything I can't wash, and I don't have anything like that ongoing right now. I don't really want to start anything new -- the desire isn't even there, which is weird. I'm on a mission to get my WIPs out of the way. But it's either start a new small or have nothing to stitch on (unthinkable). Decisions, decisions....

Monday, May 02, 2011

Gingerbread Stitching House fob

I've been working on Victoria Sampler's Gingerbread Stitching House for a while, but I decided to do the finishing on the fob, which I've had stitched for a while now. It's very tiny and very cute. But am I satisfied? Not quite. The instructions called for 2-ply mat board, which I didn't have, so I used 4-ply. That made it a little bulky, which makes the stitching around the edge a little stretched and not very nice looking. I did a second round of stitches around the edge, which helped some, but it still bugs me. I should have just left the mat board out. Even with 2-ply, I think it would have been too bulky. I'm not going to restitch it, so I'll have to make myself be satisfied with it. I really wish I didn't drive myself crazy like this. I try to remind myself of something a friend once told me: If you want perfect, a machine will give you perfect. Something being handmade means it's imperfect, and that's what makes it beautiful.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Rose and Butterfly Quilt block 12

Here's the latest installment. I don't know why my pictures always come out blurry. Matt tells me to read the manual, but....

Books: I made my last purge of books. So far I've gotten rid of 480 books. I'm rather proud of myself for letting go of possessions, but it does hurt. I'll get over it. I kept my favorite authors -- still too many boxes of books in storage.

Have you heard that libraries will be able to loan books on the Kindle? I'm excited about this, but I know our backwater library won't implement this for a long time, if ever. Maybe when we move to Austin it will be better.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rose and Butterfly Quilt block 11

Here's another update. I'm cruising along now that I've hit my stride with the piece. I hope I can keep it up!

And on to the good news! Matt got a job! The offer wasn't spectacular, but it's pretty good, and he really likes the place. He thinks he'll enjoy being their quality engineer. We're going to be moving to Austin as soon as we can sell the house. Of course that means we need to work on the house first. Ugh. I'll keep my current job, but I can't be a supervisor or get a promotion if I'm not in the office (I telecommute). Bummer. I need to figure out what I want to do with my career now.

Matt has a competition in Albuquerque next week, and then he has two killer weeks of school and finals left. It will be nice to see my husband again someday soon. Imagine me married to an engineer. I've joked that the engineer is the natural enemy of the technical writer. We do tend to think of things a little differently, but we also have complementing strengths. He's a good writer, but he's not artsy like I am (finally something he's not good at). And me...while my brain has to be able to organize information logically, etc., in order to be a technical writer, science and math have not been my strong points for a long time (yes, I used to be good at math a long, long time ago). Let's just say we make the perfect team. I know I couldn't imagine a better partner.

(Might be nice if he cross stitched with me...but at least he gets it.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Framed pieces

My two Jill Rensel masterpieces are in the house! And they are huge! I'll try to take some photos when I have them on the wall to show scale.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rose and Butterfly Quilt block 10

Here's the latest installment of my monster Chatelaine. The initials were a little tricky to figure out because you need to center the letters, not their little swirls. Martina had charted the M (because it's her initial, of course), but I had to figure out where to put the B. An added irritation was that I goofed on the placement of an eyelet at the bottom, which threw off the letter placement. That's right, I had to rip out over-one stitching--always a pain in the backside. But hey, it's done, and I like it!

My framed pieces from Jill Rensel should be coming in any day now....

Diet: I've been working on getting my Lap-Band to the right fullness. Unfortunately, during this last round I got overfilled. Ouch. I could hardly eat anything, and I woke up many, many times at night choking on acid reflux. Yesterday the doctor removed some of the fill, and it's such a relief. I'm also getting better restriction, so we'll see if this works.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Framed pieces from Jill Rensel

Jill sent me some photos of the pieces she's framed for me. They should ship out Monday. I am so excited!

The first piece is my biggie, The Awakening by Heaven and Earth Designs. Click to get a bigger pic so you can see Jill's amazing painting on the mats. She's a true artist.

The second piece is Castle Sampler by Teresa Wentzler. This is the piece I stitched on before and after Logan was born. I actually took it to the hospital but didn't get to stitch on it (drat). I remember stealing a few minutes here and there while recovering in bed. Where there's a will, there's a way!

Jill has certainly done the pieces justice, and I can't wait to see them in person. If they're this gorgeous in photos, they'll be even better in person!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Easter cushion

I made my little Chatelaine freebie into a cushion, the first one I've made of this type. You can see more pics of the sides and back. I'm pretty pleased with it, though it took longer than I thought it would. I was a little tired of stitching quite so many pink flowers! You can't see the sparklies in the fabric well, but I definitely like the effect here.

My floss finally came in, so I can work on my Halloween pieces again. No photos of those because I'm planning them for a giveaway in October. Muahaha!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Jill Rensel has a blog!

For those that don't know, Jill Rensel is an amazing framer. She's currently working on two pieces of mine. I recently found out the URL for her blog where she posts pics of pieces she's done. So beautiful.

Rose and Butterfly Quilt block 9

Here's the latest block. I figure that I can finish a block every two weeks if I stick to it. That's the plan anyway. My threads for my other small projects have shipped at long last, and I'm looking forward to working on them too.

Diet: Good news on that front. I figured out that my 25-year class reunion would be in 2012, and in order to be thin for it, I'm going to have to hustle. I seem to work well with a deadline, so it's really motivated me. I've begun walking on the treadmill again (20 minutes a day at the moment). I've also stuck to the diet fairly well. Eight pounds lost in the first week, so I'm finally encouraged. Your comments also helped; they were very touching. I know I'm not the only one daunted by weight loss. Thanks for the support. :-)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Easter 2011 Freebie HD

This is the Easter 2011 Freebie from Chatelaine. You can find the pattern on Martina's blog. I stitched in on 32-count opalescent. I rarely use glittery fabric, but it works for this piece. I'm going to make it into a little cushion, and I'll show some pics when it's finished. I got frustrated when my other little pieces were all missing floss, so I started something new, which I'm trying to avoid (I have a lot of WIPs right now). I'm still working on Rose Quilt (also a Chatelaine) when I have time to myself.

Since my floss order still hasn't shipped after three weeks, I canceled the order and will get it from someone else. After I canceled the order, the place said they were waiting for the floss to come in. Why couldn't they tell me that right after they received the order or when I emailed them a week ago? Some things I can wait on, but some things I really don't want to. Give me the option. I guess they were afraid to lose the order, but now they've lost a customer.

I'll order from a place in Austin, the Needle Works. I haven't been there, but they ship stuff really fast. They have a lot of canvas and needlepoint on their website. I really love some of the pieces. I don't need a new hobby, and the stuff is very expensive, but I'm really drawn to it. Sigh.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rose and Butterfly Quilt update

It's hard to believe I haven't worked on this one since 2008. I think the huge size of the piece is what makes it so tiresome to work on. I found some plastic hair clips that might help. Make sure you click on this one to get a bigger image.

So of the three pieces I'm actively working on -- this one, VS's Gingerbread House, and a Halloween piece -- I'm missing one color of floss for each. I can still do some other stitching on the pieces while I wait, at least.

I bought fabric today for a table cloth for my little white table. I'll work on it after my mom gets back from her vacation next week. I'm getting rid of the plant stand, and I'm planning the table cloth and some fabric wall hangings using some frames I already had. I'll post a pic when it's all done.

Thanks for the compliments on the table. It's the one we had in the kitchen of our old house growing up. The thing is a good bit older than me. If it's as old as the other antiques, it would be around 80 years old. (It's got an extra leaf we keep in the garage.) My mom repainted it a while back. It could use a good scrub. I'm leaning toward staying with two chairs so that the tablecloth shows up better and doesn't make the space feel too cramped.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A year later...

So this spring break marks one year since I had Lap-Band surgery. Sigh. This is going to be a very depressing post. Feel free to skip it. Really, I'm warning you now.

So...I lost about 40 pounds very quickly after I had surgery. I've gained a little back but have kept most of it off. Even that isn't much to celebrate because that's what I gained after I decided to get the Lap-Band. Basically I stopped fighting myself from eating because I thought the Lap-Band would be the answer. It isn't.

It's great that I'm not gaining weight, but I didn't spend all that money (20 percent of the bill is still a lot) and go through all that pain just to not gain weight. It's still a diet, which I've failed at my whole life. The Lap-Band does curb some of the hunger but not enough. I can still eat an entire meal from a restaurant. I think the gastric sleeve would have been better for me (where they basically remove most of your stomach), but the insurance wouldn't pay for it. Had I known how badly this would fail, I might have seriously considered paying $10,000 (and then given up the idea because we don't have any money).

I can still get the band tightened some more. I may try that again. It's the carb craving that's getting me. I really wish I hadn't gone off the diet for our trip during the summer. That has resurrected my addiction to carbs, and I can't seem to kick the habit on my own.

I can also try exercise. It's pretty hard on my body, but I can do some walking. With Matt's job situation, it's just hard to work up the enthusiasm to get going. He keeps getting rejected, and as we know, depression certainly doesn't help the diet situation. Food is our comfort and what we keep falling back on.

At this point I'm just tired. Tired of fighting the hunger. Tired of thinking someday maybe this will be the thing that does it for me. I'm going to be fat for the rest of my life, but I don't want to be. No matter what successes and loves I have in my life, my weight will always be the failure that counts the most and that defines me.

See, told you, depressing.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Kitchen decor question

We're in the process of decluttering, packing some items, and staging the house so that we can sell the house in May. Here's a design question I have for you guys. Should I get rid of the plant stand (used to be a wine cart) or not? It's pretty rickety, and I wouldn't feel too bad about getting rid of it. What else does this part of the kitchen need? A table cloth? Pictures on the wall (and where exactly)? I can add a third chair if I get rid of the plant stand.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Maggie the Messmaker HD

This piece has been the biggest nightmare piece I have ever faced. No Teresa Wentzler piece, no hardanger, no HAED has given me as many problems as this piece. It's a beautiful piece, don't get me wrong. But I had nothing but problems from the minute I started. With a TW, I can just go without reading the directions. I sort of tried it with this piece and didn't notice the different strands and half/full stitches. So I had to rip a lot when I didn't pay close enough attention to the chart. So, for the final time, let me enumerate the things I didn't like about the design of this piece:
  • Lots of half stitches. Sometimes I forgot which one I was supposed to stitch and did it the wrong way. Ripit!
  • Differing numbers of strands. Sometimes two strands, sometimes three, sometimes a blend. Again, I had to rip.
  • Colored chart. Same symbols, different colors -- that can get confusing, especially when you highlight the chart and have to restitch something. (I had to highlight because there was so much detail in the piece.)
  • Huge chart. The thing is in shreds now with all the folding.
  • Complicated backstitching. Given the complexity of the piece, it's hard to avoid, but the backstitching was a pain.
  • Poor cording instructions. I didn't even realize I was supposed to make cording until I glanced at the stitch instructions. I know how to stitch -- I didn't need instructions. Well, apparently I was supposed to intuit that I was supposed to be couching cording, not strands of thread (the diagram gave a thread count, 1, 2, or 3 strands). Again with the ripping.
  • Knots! Yes, I had to use knots with the cording. Icky patooey.
  • Aida and non-DMC floss. The standard thing we hate about Dimensions kits. I didn't sub.
  • Full stitches, not quarter stitches. As we know, this makes for a sloppy-looking piece. As complex as this piece was, I'm pretty glad it didn't use fractionals, to tell you the truth!
I think the key here is that you have to pay attention to every little thing you do with this chart. I stitch to relax, so that's sometimes difficult. But it's done, and I'm not going to buy another Dimensions kit. They probably aren't all this bad, but I'm not taking that chance. Of course, I still have Magnificent Wizard in my WIP pile. I think I'll save that one for later, even though I had wanted to finish it for Matt's graduation in May. I just don't think I can take it right now. So, on to my Victoria Sampler gingerbread house. I can enjoy my stitching again!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Backstitching on Maggie the Messmaker complete

The backstitching was almost as bad as I thought it would be. Toward the end I was really gritting my teeth and getting it done. And no, I'm still not finished. Now I have to do quite a bit of couching. But I'm getting closer to a finish!

Family update: Matt had sinus surgery about a week ago. (Go figure, both of us needed it. Should I schedule Logan's now?) The doctor had to do more work than he had on me, and I was pretty bad. It took longer for Matt to recover, but he's doing fine now. His nose is still sensitive, but it's all healing up well. Logan's got an ear infection, a hacking cough, and a stomach bug he picked up from daycare. Poor little guy. And with all this, I'm trying to clean and fix up the house for when we try to sell it in May. Matt hasn't gotten any job nibbles yet. We're thinking it's because he's almost 40. It's very disheartening and has me worried for the future. I have a good job, but with the state's economy, I'm wondering how long even that will last. Depressing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fun stitching day!

I had a fun day today! I met Melissa, Amanda, and Michelle at Ginger's for an impromptu day of stitching and chatting. I always enjoy these opportunities to talk to other stitchers so much. They speak my language!

I brought my Victoria Sampler gingerbread house to work on, and Amanda mentioned that Thea had another piece to go with it, a Christmas tree that she was teaching in a cyberclass. For $200. Ouch. I hemmed and hawed and did it. It's something I really want, even though I don't have the money with Matt being unemployed. But I'll try to be good in other areas to make up for it. I'm going to cancel my subscription to City of Heroes, which I don't play anymore (I love the game, but I've run out of things to do).

No work on the backstitching of Maggie yet. Soon!

Books: Amazon has a bunch of free books for the Kindle, which I discovered with Carol's help. I found a lot that I think I will like. That should help the pocketbook some. (To find them, check Amazon Popular Classics and Promos, and then sort by price. Be careful because not all are free.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maggie update

I finally finished all the stitching! Now I need to do the part I've dreaded, the backstitching. After reading the instructions, it's not as bad as I thought, but there's a lot of it. Hopefully the next update will show it completed!

My mom offered to get a piece framed for me, so I've decided to send Jill Rensel my TW Castle Sampler to get framed. I may also send The Awakening, my big HAED piece, and pay for that myself. I'm terrified of mailing them, but Jill does such great work at affordable prices that I just need to do it.

Good news: My husband passed the FE exam, which is a precursor to becoming a PE, a professional engineer (the rest includes working with a PE for five years and then taking the PE test). I am so proud of him.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Maggie the Messmaker update

According to my records, I didn't work on this piece at all in 2010, even though it was one of my goals. Time just got away from me, I guess. I put this one back to work after my last exchange piece was done and after I ran out of floss for Victoria Sampler's gingerbread house (I now have the floss, but I think I'll keep working on Maggie for now). I've made pretty good progress on it, and I may actually finish the cross stitching this month. I'm dreading the backstitching because it's a Dimensions Gold kit and has very complicated instructions. And they say Teresa Wentzler pieces are tough! I'd prefer that any day.

Diet: My weight loss stopped completely after our vacation last summer. I went back on the carbs, and they were my downfall, even with Lap-Band surgery. And for those who don't know, you still have to diet with the Lap-Band. It's supposed to take care of the hunger, but it's not working for me right now. I need to go in this month and get the band tightened.

The potty-training saga: We were so frustrated with Logan's lack of interest in potty training. We tried M&Ms as a reward. Nope. Then we tried giving him a car when he pooped in the potty. Bingo! It took him about two weeks to figure it out. Now he's wearing underwear and going to the potty by himself. Heaven! He still has occasional accidents and has to wear pull-ups at night, but we're so happy that light switch finally turned on. Now we're trying to ween him from getting cars every day....