Thursday, May 29, 2008

Magic/Fantasy Exchange piece

Susan posted that she received my package, so I guess it's safe to show pictures. I hope she likes it (I'm wondering). Now you know what took so long! This is part of Fantasy Triptych by Teresa Wentzler. For the back I finally got to use some neat fabric I found a while back.

This month for the Monthly Finishing Challenge the finishing is a tin topper. I have no idea what to stitch, so I have to search around. I've already looked through my charts and found nothing (I have few smalls except Just Nan, which are squares). I guess that means searching through feebies online for something that would fit an Altoids tin.

Monday, May 26, 2008

White cake with buttercream frosting

Here's the cake I made this weekend. I was concentrating on baking the cake and smoothing the buttercream, so the decorating is kind of goofy. Friday I baked a cake, but I set the oven on 450 instead of 350. Of course I had to toss it. This one turned out fine. I did wind up using the wrong buttercream frosting recipe--the one for decorations, not frosting the cake. I managed to thin it enough to frost with. Even though I made two batches, it wasn't enough really, and it didn't crust like it should have. The cake tastes a little dry. I'm thinking some bake even strips might help (you put them around the pan for even cooking), but I don't know.

Stitching: I haven't been stitching very much. It's just such a pain to take everything out for Rose Quilt and then pick it back up. My living room is very crowded with baby stuff right now. It will be even worse when Logan starts crawling and I have to pick up every last thing. I've also been down lately. My weight loss has been disappointing, especially for so early on, and there seems to be one disappointment after another (I won't list them all).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Celestial Moon

I finished this one last night. It was very quick, and I think I like this one better than the sun. The face is so cute, and I like the blue and silver. I think I'll wait to put the fob together. Maybe the Monthly Finishing Challenge will have a fob month.

I finished the finishing, so to speak, of my Fantasy/Magic Exchange piece. It's not perfect, but it's passable. I'm always my worst critic. I also pulled out Rose Quilt to work on the next square.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TW's Celestial Sun HD

I finished this one Saturday and didn't get around to taking pictures. It's Teresa Wentzler's Celestial Sun. I'll work on the other side of the fob, a moon by Dragon Dreams. I think I'm in a slump. I haven't been spending every spare moment on stitching (just most of them).

I'm working on the finishing of my Magic/Fantasy Exchange piece. I only have a few things left to do. It didn't come out perfectly, but I guess it's good enough (grr).

I need to pull out my next focus piece, either Rose Quilt or Maggie. I'm guessing it will be Rose Quilt since I haven't worked on it in a while. I think I'm not eager to work on it because it's so large and cumbersome, and because the border doesn't give me much area to tuck my tails in.

Cake: I signed up for two cake decorating classes in July. I used some "found money." I can't in good conscience use household money right now.

Diet: Yes, I'm back on the diet (grumble). I'm going to try journaling a bit and watching my caloric intake since the South Beach approach is aggravating me. I'm still going to stay away from bad carbs as much as possible (can you say CAKE?). Oh, I did win the pot of quarters last night when my name was drawn--all $8! It went into Logan's bank.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I went to TOPS tonight, and after a week of eating very little and sticking to South Beach (bleh) and not having any cake, I lost .2 pounds. My mom, who had at least two pieces of cake, lost .6 (she's at goal)!

So I came home and had some cake. :-(

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Damier part 5

Here's the next installment of Damier. I love the little bee hive.

I also added the frog charm to my Spring Peepers biscornu. I saved over the old pictures.

Oh, I did not have to bake a second cake today. I just made spaghetti for the guys (one less guy than normal, unfortunately).

My first cake

This is the first cake I remember ever cooking and frosting. It's certainly the first one I've baked from scratch. It is rather lopsided, and frosting a cake is a lot harder than it looks! In my defense, the frosting was not as thick as it should have been. It kept squishing out from my layers and caused some slippage. The directions did say to add powdered sugar until stiff enough, but considering that my hand mixer could barely mix the stuff as is, I thought it was ready. I really do need a stand mixer. Oh, and a cake stand. Mo money.

The cake is Italian Cream Cake, and the frosting is Crusting Cream Cheese Icing. Matt said it tasted good, for all its looks. I'll have to take his word for it. I can't have any. I had to stop myself from licking the bowl! Two more days of Stage 1 of the South Beach Diet.

A friend is coming over tonight, and we promised cake. I had forgotten he didn't like nuts, so I have to make him another cake, chocolate with chocolate icing. At least I have cake mix and canned frosting for that one.

Stitching: I finished the stitching on my Magic/Fantasy Exchange piece the other day. I hope to work on the finishing tomorrow. I'm currently stitching on this month's installment of Damier and will post a picture soon. I also started Teresa Wentzler's Celestial Sun Fob. And lastly, I got in my bellpull hardware for Barnabee's Quest, so I need to work on that too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No more Michaelisms

Our friend Michael passed away this week, and we're attending his funeral tomorrow. He was a gaming buddy of Matt's and came over almost every Saturday night. It's very sad because he wasn't even 40 yet, but he did weigh about 600 pounds. He had had a heart attack several months ago and tried to change his ways, but it just didn't work for him. This second heart attack got him. We're so sorry to lose him. He was always cheerful, always up. He was kind and understanding, even when insecure me tried roleplaying games for the very first time. Michael's friends used to razz him for his Michaelisms--off-the wall sayings that you knew what he meant but just sounded out there. My favorite was "The butt's on the other side of the doughnut now." He took all the teasing in stride and just enjoyed it for what it was, male bonding or something. We also played City of Heroes/Villains with him. Saturday nights just aren't going to be the same. The gaming group is down to Matt and his other best friend, which really isn't much of a group. So sad.

We also heard that Matt didn't get the job he applied for. He has one other known opportunity, but I really thought he had this one in the bag. My poor love. So many bad things happening this week. At least he's got me, Logan, and Mom, who love him dearly.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

This is technically my first Mother's Day where I'm a mother. Matt and Mom tell me last year didn't count (I was pregnant). I think it does. :-P

Diet: I hit my 20 pounds total weight loss yesterday. Since I had promised myself a reward for 15 pounds but I'm not buying stuff, my mom bought the reward for me! It's the pullware I need for Barnabee's Quest. Woohoo! I've finished my first week of the South Beach Diet, eating only meat, cheese, nuts, green vegetables, and milk. I haven't been hungry, but I'm also not that fond of meat and vegetables. I could eat cheese all day, but you get bored with it. One more week and then I can start adding a few carbs back.

A new hobby: I found out that there are cake decorating classes in Austin. Yippee! I've decided I really want to learn how. We've watched so many competition shows on the Food Network. I know I won't be in that league, but I think I'd enjoy doing something creative like that. Matt did point out the irony of a woman on a diet wanting to decorate cakes. Oh well. I'll sign up for the classes once Matt's officially hired.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Framed piece from Jill Rensel

Here's the framed piece I received from Jill Rensel Wednesday. Let me tell you the story behind this piece. Matt's mom passed away a few years ago. When he was going through her Christmas items to see if there were things he wanted, he came across this piece. His mom had framed it and used a regular piece of colored paper as a mat. You can guess what happened--the acid in the paper turned the piece yellow. His mom was also a heavy smoker, which further yellowed the piece. I took it and soaked it in Orvus a few times. A lot of the yellow came out but not all of it. I knew that if anyone could cut a mat to disguise it, Jill Rensel could. I sent her the piece, and we discussed how to frame it. I pretty much let her do whatever she wanted. And here's the result! You can see a little yellowing if you really look, but it's beautiful and doesn't look bad at all. Now Precious Moments isn't my thing, but I appreciate having something of hers on the wall, as does Matt. I'm so lucky to have a husband that appreciates handwork! I think she'd be really pleased that we're taking such good care of her cross stitching. I know I would be.

I let Matt unwrap the package, and he had to make his way through layers of packing (Jill does an excellent job). He said it was just like opening a present from his mom--layers and layers of paper.

You'd think such a masterpiece would cost loads, but it was only about $150. Can you believe it?

On another subject, BeckySC gave away some extra charts, and I was lucky enough to get a bunch: My First Gray Hare, Faith * Hope * Love, Simply Thankful, and a snowman book. I'll stitch these at some point. I did get two charts I won't stitch; if you'd like to trade, email me: The Little Bee and Rebecca Gelwick 1837 Sampler.

Jobs: Matt had an interview yesterday that went well. He interviewed with several people he has worked with and who know the good job he does. There are actually three job openings, so we think he has a good shot.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spring Peepers HD

Here's my biscornu for the Monthly Finishing Challenge. It's Spring Peepers by Just Nan. I broke down and ordered the gold frog charm because I just couldn't find any button that looked good in the middle. I am selling a few charts to make a little money, so it should even out.

I used a pale blue linen, 28 count I believe. I also used some leftover beads from a kit; they were just the right color! It's the second biscornu I've made but the first with a beaded edging. I also replaced the gold metallic for the frogs with DMC 500; they just didn't show up well in gold.

I'm still working on my Fantasy/Magic Exchange piece. Why did I pick something with so much stitching? I just hope it looks good when I'm done!

I received a framed piece from Jill Rensel last night, my first from her. I was not disappointed! I'll take pics when I get a chance. I was too beat last night.

Diet: I started the diet again seriously this week. I joined TOPS too. My mom's been a member for years and does the conventions. I had to roll my eyes at the weight-loss songs and pledges, but otherwise I think it will be good for me. I started the South Beach diet again, and I'm doing well. I made my 15 pounds total loss yesterday (which I started waaaay back), but now I can't reward myself because I'm not buying stash. Doh! Maybe when I hit 20 pounds lost.

The job front: Matt has a day-long interview today. Yuck. But we're optimistic. He also has another job prospect that we're waiting to hear about.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Feathered Friends exchange sent and received

Goldie was my partner for the Feathered Friends exchange on the SBEBB. I stitched For the Birds by Drawn Thread for her. I saw that she had a few Drawn Thread pieces in her stitching album, so I figured this was a safe bet. And I love Drawn Thread, so I was excited about stitching this piece. I also gave her the chart for Three Friends, which incidentally has birds! The three floss skeins in the picture below are ones called for in the chart too. Remember my bird pins made of polymer clay? I included the cardinal set in her exchange, plus some Burt's Bees products and some chocolate Altoids. I'm glad I bought all this before Matt got laid off!

Now let me complain a bit about making the pillow. This is the first one I've sewn myself. Mom gave me advice, but I did it all myself. It's basically two front/backs sewn together with a top stitch on the sewing machine to enclose the pillow. I learned that I really need to use a pillow form if I'm going to try to top stitch the thing closed. So I made a pillow out of batting and stuffing. I had to do the top stitching twice because I just couldn't stuff it enough without doing the pillow form. I also learned that chalk pens don't come out easily, and that unwashed fabric will bleed (learned when I took a wet towel to try to get the chalk out). I think it turned out pretty well for all that.

Friday, May 02, 2008


There's been a lot of talk on the boards about DMC since the French DMC company went out of business. DMC-USA sent out an email saying that all was well and that we wouldn't have to worry about our floss supply. Whew! I was about to go out and buy the missing floss for my backup set (I have a full set of partial skeins and an incomplete set of full skeins for when I run out [a result of my only local supplier--Wal-Mart--getting rid of DMC]). Matt said they should have waited a few weeks to send out the email so there would be more runs on floss. Evil mind.

I received my DMC color card a few days ago. It's completely gloatable. I just love touching the floss (with my clean hands). This will be really helpful when I'm substituting colors and such, not that I do it much. But for one reason or another, I've found such a card needed from time to time. The thing is huge--a fold-out of six pages. I can see why they don't find it cost-effective to produce anymore.

On the wagon: Matt has several prospects but as yet remains unemployed. I've started economizing and have vowed to buy no stash, other than current commitments like a piece I'm having Jill Rensel frame (pics Wednesday!). It's been surprisingly difficult. It's not the big purchases I miss but the small ones, like the floss and beads for my Sweetheart Tree needlerolls and the frog charm for the Just Nan biscornu I'm going to do for the Monthly Finishing Challenge. But it's a challenge, and I can do it! (Though it would be helpful if I could just win one of the drawings for a gift cerficate from the MFC!)

The editor in me: I read in Michelle's blog about the Typo Hunt across America: the story and the blog. I just love this. I'm going to have to start taking pictures of the typos I find and post pictures to my blog. It's much better than sitting and stewing, like when I'm in the doctor's office and there are typos in several of the signs in the waiting room, mocking me. I won't mention the typos I find for a living. (Now to proofread this blog so I don't set myself up for a fall.)