31 July 2005

Rainy days can be fun! Yes, it is raining again here in Gouda after 2 wonderfully sunny days. But as Nicky and Rowen show us here, rain can be fun. After all, without rain, there are no puddles to stamp in. They are just so adorable in their little rain jackets that I had to publish a photo of them. That's their proud Daddy in the background. Everyone is getting ready to walk the dog.

posted by mainely stitching at 11:19 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments

These are the first few stitches of my newest project, which is one I'm designing myself using elements from old books and my imagination. The border, which will be on top and bottom, is a repeating primitive stag motif taken from Merklap Motieven en hun symboliek, written by Albarta Meulenbelt-Nieuwburg. I've used Sampler Threads in Mulberry, Apple Butter and Forest Glade. I'm tentatively calling this "Forest Song". I'm stitching this on 32 ct Chestnut Permin linen.

The body of the design will also be repeating motifs, but not in the form of a border.

posted by mainely stitching at 11:14 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
29 July 2005

Peacock Repose, by the Workbasket
Finally finished, despite my frustrations with the "slippery" fabric that refused to stay in the hoop. I like the chart, though I am not wholly pleased with my color scheme. If that dark blue were less intense, it would work better. But, hey, you never know until you try.
I stitched this on 28 ct 'Barnwood' Permin linen using all Sampler threads (celery & grapeleaf, ltd. ed. sugar maple & clover, midnight & old blue paint). It's that midnight that stands out - too much contrast between that and the clover, I think. blah blah. I'm glad it's done - the fabric was seriously driving me nuts. There is a mistake, but one that would've necessitated pulling so many stitches that I just didn't bother. This is one for me, anyway. I'm collecting my bird pieces to make a perpetual birthday calendar for our home. I still have a long way to go, but this is one instance in which getting there will be more than half the fun.
Had an easy day today with Rowen in daycare. Nicky stayed home sick after battling a fever through the night. It was an odd coincidence that he got sick the same day as his ENO (ear/nose/throat) appointment. He needs his adenoids & tonsils removed and drainage tubes inserted into his ears. I'm having a hard time accepting this. I knew he needed something, but so much surgery on someone so small .... And our hospital recently reported they'd had the 'super bacteria' but had eradicated it. I don't trust the PR, and worry that he'll come home with something a lot worse than swollen tonsils & adenoids.
Other than that, we had a good day just sort of kicking back and relaxing. The sun was out for a pleasant change and although Nicky was sick, he wasn't really sick and could enjoy playing for much of the day. My dad's visit is going well, too. And I even managed to get in an hour's worth of paying work and clear out more than half the issues in my workflow. Tonight I charted out a design of my own devising, using some bits and pieces from old books. I'm really looking forward to doing something totally different!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:48 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
28 July 2005

We went to Utrecht today, and I finally found the little shop I'd heard about from other Dutch stitchers (de Vlijt) and picked up three great little chart booklets that I'm just thrilled with. And if that weren't a big enough gift, I found my Silkweaver order had arrived with three big pieces of fabric and *ahem* several small pieces. Time to learn to stitch with my toes!
We actually went to Utrecht today so my Dad could see the beautiful city center. We ate lunch at a terrace on one of the grachtenkelders (tiny little restaurants perched precariously just above the canal waterways that crisscross the city) so my dad could really soak up the ambience. We had a drink later under under the Utrechtse Dom and soon after headed homeward (but first stopping by de Vlijt, of course!).
My dad's visit is going well, but the time seems to be going by faster as each day passes. Tonight we are off to a Chinese restaurant where you select your own food from a raw/fresh salad bar and have the chef cook your dish to your specifications. It's YUMMY!
27 July 2005

We have had rain, rain, and more rain it seems like. I'm running out of things to do! My dad is here visiting from the US, which is great, but my imagination is running out of bright ideas of things to do that are interesting and will keep three busy kids happily engaged for awhile. Today we went to Ikea for lunch - and we found a frame for Max's dragon (hooray!). Yesterday we went to Naturalis, a very cool museum in Leiden that is a real eye-opener for young & old alike. The day before that we hung out at home because Rowen was supposed to have a checkup at the pediatrician (that the doctor forgot about...) and the day before that we went to the zoo in Amersfoort. Fortunately that was a dry day, or at least mostly.

In between catching up with my dad and trying to keep the kids happy, I haven't actually found much time for stitching, but I have managed to finish off this adorable train for Pelle. He's a great little guy who will soon be turning 1. I haven't actually met Pelle yet, but his mom has been a wonderful source of encouragement regarding my own cross stitching, so a special little gift was in order. This chart is a freebie if you're interested! I stitched it on Silkweaver Solos using Needle Necessities and Caron Wildflowers. The alphabet is one from SanMan Originals I had laying about.

Tonight I put a few more stitches in "Peacock Repose" by the Workbasket - a sweet little design, but for some reason it's driving me nuts. I blame the fabric, which is a 32 ct Permin linen that simply refuses to stay in the hoop. I've tried 3 different hoops, but within seconds the darn stuff works itself loose. It has a slippery feel and it's quite unpleasant to stitch on. Anyone else ever encountered this? I've had stubborn linen before, but nothing like this. Anyway, I am nearing the final stitches and hopefully I'll post it soon.

On a personal note, I am still waiting for Jim to contact me if/when he reads this.

Thanks for reading! If you still have time and want a bit of a laugh, check out Strange Things You Likely Didn't Know.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:41 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
20 July 2005
For a blog that's supposed to be about stitching, there has been precious little activity in that area for awhile now. Last night I could've - should've! - stitched all evening: Niek was away at a chess game (he won!), the kids were actually quiet (until 4 am, anyway), and I'm certainly eager to close up the two small WIPs I had in progress.

Wait ... two small WIPs I "had" in progress? What's changed? Well, this afternoon it dawned on me that a special little boy is turning one year old in about 2 weeks and I hadn't begun his gift yet. Oops. Oh my. Oh dear. Everything was ready, but I thought his birthday was the end of August, not the beginning. So for about 30 minutes before I had to begin dinner preparations, I started a new project. Another small one. This one's pretty simple - honest! - and I have to finish it very fast. I love the colors, but I can't post it until it's been recieved just in case his mommy peeks here.

On another subject, where ever Jim is, I wish he'd contact me and let me know he's okay. I worry.
17 July 2005

The promised pictures!

Returning to normal...

We're on our 7th load of post-camping laundry. Does it ever end? And due to an upcoming visit with the in-laws (any minute now), I've been scurrying around like a lunatic trying to make the house look like I've been cleaning for the past week instead of hanging out at beaches. The downstairs looks fine, but I sure hope no one ventures upstairs.

The kids all seem to be happy to be home again. They grew by leaps and bounds while we were gone and I have had to sort through their closets to remove too-small clothes and replace them with the next size up. With 3 kids, that seems to be a never-ending process. Nicky is now wearing clothes that it seems like Max only outgrew a year or so ago, and Rowen is almost wearing the same size as Nicky. Today Nicky is wearing a Rainforest Cafe iguana T-shirt that was always a favorite of mine when Max had it. It seems weird to see it on Nicky.

Our camera seems to be okay, after restoring all the original settings, recharging the battery, and deleting all the pictures on it. Knock wood....

And the lovely picture I posted last time was of my father, Jim, and his mother, Arline Chatterton. I've always really liked that picture and knowing who is in it makes it much more special.

I haven't gotten any cross stitching done to speak of, which has me feeling all out of sorts. There are several projects I want/need to get done, but I feel like I am falling more & more behind. I hope to finish a small one tonight, a peacock from The Workbasket, and maybe that will get me back on track. I am at least a little bit caught up on my email correspondence. It's amazing how things pile up when you're away for a few days!

I am posting the few pictures of the kids that we were able to take on holiday before the camera had its breakdown. Now the in-laws are here, and off I go!
08 July 2005

A vacation from vacation ...

This is a picture from my grandmother's album - sadly, no one in the family seems to be sure who it is, but I thought it fit today's entry.

We have all had baths & showers and slept soundly in our own beds. Everyone is wearing dry clothes. Max has played with all his tiny toys - Legos, PlayMobile, etc. Nicky and Rowen have colored in their coloring books. Gilbert and Spin, our bird & cat, have basked in our presence. Niek called the doggie hotel to check on Xavier, who is having a wonderful time (and should, at the cost! Next year, we're talking about lodging dogs rather than vacationing!) The weather forecast continues to call for rain through tonight, so we are debating on rather or not to stay home for one more night. The rainfall of the past couple of days has broken all records for over 200 years. Global warming, anyone?

If we do stay home another day, I plan to call my friend Kelli, who is expecting her twin boys any day now (or may already have them!).

A few other items of business:

Congratulations to my brother and his family on the purchase of their new, large, lovely home! I haven't yet been able to say congratulations personally, sorry!

Good luck to my father and his wife-to-be, who were underway to their wedding when the RV broke down. I hope the wait for parts is a short one!

Best of luck at the racetrack to my Dad and his girlfriend, who are 'down' in Bangor watching the annual races with friends and family.

And heartfelt get-well wishes to my mom, who came down with some nasty bug and is now feeling very under the weather.

As for me, I think I'll see if I can't sneak in a few stitches while the kids play. My current project is riddled with quarter stitches and I feel like half of it is actually two-over-one stitching. Very easy to lose count, and agonizingly slow progress.

Best wishes to all. I'll miss you once we are back on the campground.

(Camping with young children, by the way, is something I would only recommend to the stout-hearted!)
posted by mainely stitching at 10:31 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
07 July 2005

The swallows in Zeeland lie ...

We're home, drying out and doing a bit of laundry and packing some warmer clothes - back to the campground tomorrow morning. What a start to a vacation! You can't have worse camping weather than we've had so far: heavy rains, thunder & lightening storms, high winds, etc. Last evening it was actually dry for an hour or two, and Niek & I were watching the high-flying swallows ("when swallows fly high, you'll enjoy fair sky" or some such nonsense) thinking we would finally enjoy some good summer weather, but before we knew it, the lightening was splitting the sky and we were running for the tent.

Our summer holiday so far

Drove off in a light but persistant rain for our unseen camping destination in Arnemuiden, Zeeland at De Witte Raaf. Arrived to find our tent infested with red ants. Got a replacement tent that only had black ants.

Overcast, muggy day that was perfect for the kids to enjoy the freshwater beach that is on the campground. Niek even managed to get a sunburn. So far, so good.

Sunday night:
Truly the most intense thunder & lightening storm I have ever witnessed, let alone from a flapping tent. Cold, too!! I nearly dragged the whole family into our parked car to avoid being struck by lightening.

Rain, rain, rain. Rained more in one day than the average rainfall for an entire month. We went to a pirate "museum" in Zeeland (the Arsenaal) that the kids really enjoyed.

The rain continued and we were treated to another heavenly pyrotechnic display all night long. There are now ducks swimming in the grass, the water is so high. We drove around Vlissingen and during a break in the weather, enjoyed a picnic of fresh-fried fish (kibbling) and cherries overlooking the sea. When Niek suggested a stop at a beach, I thought he was nuts, but the weather held. The kids and I saw our first jellyfish, but no one got stung. Max added to his impressive seashell collection. However, soon after dinner, the rain started again.

Niek drove us all the way to Gent, in Belgium, to try and get out from under the storm center. To no avial. We ducked into a mall, where we ate Italian food and purchased some famous Belgian waffles from a supermarket and drove back to the soggy campground and our damp belongings.

Wednesday night:
More stormy weather. Laying in bed, I began to fear that the whole tent would blow off and we would awaken in France. I yelled to Niek, over the crashing thunder, that if it was still raining in the morning, I want to go home for a day.

Here we are, back in Gouda. The sun is out! The bird and cat are thrilled to have us home, even if only for a day. The laundry is running and tonight I'll pack some warmer clothes, even though everyone assures us the foul weather is over. The kids are having a grand time playing with their toys, Niek is stretched out reading a book, and for the first time this week, it feels like vacation!
posted by mainely stitching at 12:12 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
02 July 2005

Time to go!

The laundry is done, the house is clean, the bags are packed, I have our passports and the directions, and the kids are all on hyperdrive: Summer vacation has begun!

We've decided to take a 2 week camping trip on an island near the city where my husband was born. Three kids in a tent, in the Netherlands (infamous for rain & more of it) - are we crazy? Probably. But we're excited, too. Max, our 7 year old, hasn't slowed down since he bounded out of bed at 7:30. I just hope he lasts until we get to the campground late this afternoon.

We had a sort of 11th hour emergency when it came time for Niek's brother to take our dog, as agreed, and he no longer c/would. That left us with less than 24 hours to find accomodations for him. Naturally the kennels were all full-up, but Niek continued to email & call places (thank heavens for the Internet!) and finally found him a spot in a small doggie hotel in Schoonhoven, about 30 minutes from us. Our parrot, cat, and fishies will be cared for by our neighbors.

While Max packed and repacked his " must-haves" (originally he had 2 suitcases full, and there were no clothes included!), I was busy trying to select a couple of small designs and kit them out for cross stitching relaxation. I am a little bit embarassed to admit that Max managed to pare his necessities down to one small suitcase that includes his clothes, but I have switched projects at least 4 or 5 times so far. I keep thinking, "No, I'd rather do this one." Or, "Those colors don't look as good together as I thought." Or "Why can't I take it ALL?!" I'm awful - my kids can do without their toys and books, but their mommy feels sorry for herself because she can only take 3 projects along.

And then there's the concept of being offline for three whole long weeks! I won't be able to email daily with my mom or with my online stitching friends. I won't be able to trawl the internet for freebie charts. I won't be able to read anyone's blogs. Oh dear, oh dear. Will the total relaxation be worth such a price?

Speaking of blogs, here is one I truly enjoyed reading yesterday: http://joshilynjackson.com/ . You should follow the links to her book on Amazon, where you can be tantalized by the first several pages of her truly excellent novel, too. I know I will be looking for English-language bookstores in hopes of finding this literary gem.

Talk to you again in *gasp* two weeks!

By the way, the picture is a fun little piece I did for my mom - it's actually two Bent Creek charts blended (Wahoo! and Rise & Shine), with some extra bits I added, and of course my own color scheme.