30 November 2005
November recap
25 Things for Charity
The focus this month was on winter-readiness. I grew up in northern Maine and I know what a cold winter feels like! So I went through all our baby clothes and:

* Sent a box weighing 7.2 kilos of (new/nearly new) clothes, toys, and personal care items to The Next Step, a domestic violence shelter in my old hometown.

* Delivered two huge bags of new/nearly new newborn items to VBOK, a temporary home setting for (teenage) mothers-to-be here in my current hometown.

* Donated 4 huge bags of more worn, but still good condition, bags of baby/kids clothes to a Goodwill-type service here in town.

In addition, Max completed his Operation Shoebox project for a needy child. I put a picture in an earlier post - he did a great job decorating it, and used his own money to decorate & fill the box!

Last month I mentioned how differently I've begun viewing the world around me. This feeling continues, but a bit of reality has set in regarding the persistence required for charity. This can be real work! I have not enjoyed the contact I've had with the VBOK or nursing home coordinators (for the Santa Sacks), who have been disorganized and even insensitive. The VBOK coordinator insisted she had to meet me in person so I went over in a blinding rainstorm - then had to stand on the street for nearly 15 minutes before anyone would let me in; the woman herself had "disappeared" and I had to wait another 15 or 20 minutes inside for her to appear. At which point she said, "Thanks - toss the bags in my office" and then ignored me to pursue a conversation with a man who never was introduced. The nursing home coordinator never did call me back about personalized items for the Santa Sacks so I have had to get fairly anonymous items, and when I called her, she also 'insisted' that I come over for a personal meeting but had no tips for the bag contents.

This new edge to the good-works activity hasn't been very pleasant, but it has been partially balanced out by the lovely handwritten note and pictures I received from Ms Toch of the Healthy Families charity (details posted 22 November). Luckily my mom raised stubborn children, so I'll keep trudging along and hope that next month brings some more pleasant interactions!

Stitching Projects
For cross stitching and finishing, I have the feeling that I haven't done much at all:

* Stitched & finished a mini pillow for Jim & Gaby
* Stitched For the Birds
* Stitched & finished two bookmarks for Aunt Cindy
* Stitched & finished my Christmas MA exchange
* Stitched & finishe Martina's little ornament
* Started A Primitive Stocking over one
* Started Katrina Quilt square
* Found necessary pirate-theme patterns for Max's project

For December I really need to:
Finish For the Birds as a pillow
Finish A Primitive Stocking (stitching & finishing)
Finish Stick it Here pin cushion/needle magnet for Aunt Cathy (finishing only)
Do Max's pirate pieces
There are also lots of things I'd like to do, but these are the 'Must Have's as my manager at work would call them.
For charity, I will certainly:
Distribute the filled Santa Sacks
Complete and mail my Katrina Quilt square
desperately calling all knitters
Anyone who knits or who has access to warm winter clothing, please consider sending some items to orphans in China who are currently unable to go to school because the schools have no heating. I just read about this problem here. Naturally, I cleaned out all my baby/kids clothes (that we don't actually need) and donated them earlier this month. There is even an FPO address available to spare you the (shocking!) costs of international mailing.

I still don't know how to knit!

Thanks to any & all who are able to respond. And if you could please spread the word.

Thanks to Lisa and Cindy, who posted this in 25 Things for Charity.
29 November 2005
enabling on a budget
In the process of updating my sidebar links, I've been exploring the blogs of other Dutch-based stitchers ... and checking out their sidebars ... and just kind of goofing off to tell the truth. But my wanderings brought me here where you will find two very lovely free samplers! Enjoy! I know I have got to get serious about going on the wagon (and staying there!). I actually did 'hide' my credit card some time ago but I still have my PayPal account. Oh dear. And Stitching Bits and Bobs has just run one sale after another. And of course I just had to get a few things that I really wanted while they were on sale. You know how it goes...

I called the nursing home today to arrange a time to bring the Santa Sacks. Here, gifts are given on December 5th for Sinterklaas and that's just around the corner. No one had ever gotten back to me, so I took the lead. The coordinator was really ditzy, I have to say. It's disappointing to try to do something special for people who really could use that bit of extra attention - but not receive any tips or support from the people who're right there. Does anyone have any suggestions for elderly gentlemen? I have puzzle books and warm socks, chocolates and mints. But the gentlemen's 'extra' gift has me stumped.

My son, Max, turned in his shoebox for Operation Shoebox. I am very proud of him. He spent his own allowance money on it and made the selections himself. The shoeboxes are, I believe, headed for Indonesia.

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We are gearing up for our Sinterklaas celebration, though we are keeping it fairly low-key this year. Niek will have to dash out and pick up a few last items this weekend for the grand finale on Monday evening. That is "pakjesavond" and the kids will sing and get more & more excited until suddenly, somehow, Sinterklaas and his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten, sneak the gifts into the house with lots of noise and tossing about of candy and tiny cookies. (Note to self: wash floors after work on Monday!)

Then it will be Christmas. I love Christmas. It's a bittersweet holiday for us now - Max spends half the holiday with his biological father and this year we drew the short straw. Max will leave after breakfast on the 25th and not return until the 27th. I'm so dreading his empty place at the table. We will do our big family celebration on the the 24th and I will do my best to stay cheery for our other children for the rest of Christmas weekend. Niek's parents and sister will drop by for lunch on the 26th, which will be welcome. I'll be missing my own family (that includes you, Sara, if you're reading!). Maybe we'll get a white Christmas this year. That would be nice.

Hopefully this finds everyone well - happy and healthy and in the company of those you love.
28 November 2005
Your Hair Should Be Blue

Wild, brilliant, and out of control.
You're a risk taker with an eye to the future.
What's Your Funky Inner Hair Color?

I have no idea where the results came from - I think it must've been my answer on body art that threw the monkey wrench in. But you know, I usually dye my hair in the winter and hey, who would ever expect me to turn up for Christmas dinner with blue hair?

It is Monday - the craziest day of my week. No stitching done today, though I did manage to look at everyone's blog and admire your beautiful projects. Tomorrow I'm expecting a friend to come visit, so I may not get much done then either. I'm working on two projects right now: A Primitive Stocking (over one on 36 ct linen - who's a lunatic?) and a monochromatic piece for my Katrina Quilt square (that one's over two on 32 ct jobelan). I have finally found the patterns I need to make Max's pirate set, too. Hooray!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:34 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
27 November 2005
teensy weensy

Martina's ornament is ready to be mailed. Barely 2 inches at it's widest point, it is a little bit of a thing. I finished it with a cord made from DMC 221, a piece of natural overdyed silk twine (to hang it by), and another piece of overdyed silk of a golden buttercup color on the back. I didn't stuff it full, but left it purposely kind of flat. The linen is a 36 ct linen-silk blend.
what's going on
Hey everyone - take a look what's going on right here, right now! In looking up some information for Joanna regarding "Gouda by Candlelight" I stumbled across a webcam of downtown Gouda!

You'll see us down there later today. Today is a rare 'koopzondag' - a day when the shops are open on Sunday. We lucked out - we've got one birthday party today and another Tuesday and have had no opportunity to pick up gifts!

The snow has melted. Not much accumulated here in the western part of the country, but the east (where we were with our friends yesterday) got several inches. Very, very unusual!! Entire highways were closed off due to the snow. "It's just snow" said someone I know, but when you aren't used to or prepared for the fluffy white stuff, it's a disaster. I heard that people were actually stranded on the closed highways overnight and blankets were distributed!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:02 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
26 November 2005
Thanksgiving Saturday
We celebrated Thanksgiving today at the home of some friends in Nijmegen. What a treat! Gene is a truly gifted cook (that turkey would melt in your mouth!) and Monique is an easy-going, very likable person. Their kids, Jake and Skylar are great! On the drive home we got caught in a snowstorm, which added a bit of suspense to the drive, but it was so beautiful. And it really made it like Thanksgiving for me - growing up in Maine, it seemed to always snow on Thanksgiving, especially if we had to travel anywhere. Unfortunately I did not have a camera with me, since our digital is nearly dead.

When we got home, we were soon met by Eric, Ingrid and little Sven. Eric & Ingrid are out on their first "date" since Sven's birth 8 weeks ago. Sven is the little fella I sitched "Sweet Dreams" by La-D-Da for (pictures are back in the archives somewhere). Now you might think that I would be the first to scoop up a cuddly little baby ... but then you wouldn't know Niek. Sven made a little burbling noise and that was all the excuse Niek needed to swoop in and snuggle the little guy up! Spin, our kitty, couldn't miss out, either.

25 November 2005
It is snowing and sleeting and blowing and raining here - it's a winter wildland!

Last night I hung out with my Dad, in spirit. Pretty Woman was on TV and although Julia Roberts is definately not an idol of mine, I decided to watch the movie because it is one of my Dad's favorites (my dad - like my husband - is something of a hopeless romantic when it comes to happy endings). It was pretty cozy, stitching and imagining his comments. I certainly enjoyed the movie more than when I'd seen it before, and even Julia's comment about her 80-something inches of leg didn't drive me up the wall (at not-quite 63 inches of total length, the concept of 80+ inches of legs is just wildly irritating!).

What was I stitching, you ask? Well, this is a little pick-me-up for Martina Weber (Chatelaine) that is very loosely based on a design by Praiseworthy Stitches that I changed (rather a lot) to symbolize Martina and her situation and stuff. I feel like a total fraud, offering such a humble little thing to someone of her talents - but when I was in a similiar situation, any sort of personal warmth could turn a day of disaster into one filled with rainbows.

I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving enjoyed it tremendously. Tomorrow, Niek & I are off to Nijmegen, over toward Germany, to celebrate Thanksgiving with some friends. I'm trying to make a pie, but I suspect we may have to swing by the bakery on the way there ...
24 November 2005
thanks, I needed that!
My belly may not be full of turkey this Thanksgiving day, but thanks to Cathy I have now enjoyed a big belly laugh. And now I'm sharing it with everyone - if this doesn't make you laugh, check your pulse (to see if you still have one)!

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23 November 2005
mailart complete! and other announcements

Last night I finished up my Christmas MA. The deadline isn't until Dec. 5th, but that's a holiday here and because I know how difficult it can be for "weird" mail to reach its destination in a timely fashion, I'm going to mail it now. I also used a different, more secure method of closing the envelope - after the envelope was completely finished, I laced the 'flap' of the envelope to the body of the envelope with a piece of bright red floss that I then carried over to the center of the back and tied it in a bow. Wendy can untie/unlace the red thread or simply cut the extra lacings on the side. I'm quite pleased with it. Enclosed are a Christmas card and a few different types of fibers.

Thanks everyone for leaving a comment. I will spare you the terror of racy photos. Truth be told, I am very pleased with my profile picture. Much more flattering than my passport picture.

gobble gobble
Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two most difficult holidays for me to be so far from my (American) family and friends. And since Thanksgiving isn't celebrated here, it's an especially lonely day. Today Niek's been called out on a work thing, so I've eaten dinner alone with the kids, but I did try to get into the spirit of it by having a "leftover" baked chicken sandwich on white toast with gravy. I hope everyone back home is having a wonderful day and remembering to give each other the big hugs from me. A friend of mine unexpectedly lost her husband last week, so although I am too far away from you all, I am very grateful that we are able to communicate and remind each other of how much we love one another.
where did the day go?
Today Max, our oldest, had yet another free day from school due to a teacher study day. I'm wondering what those teachers are studying, as today makes the 8th such free day since school started this year. The weather is typically Dutch, which meant inventing something fun to do inside that all three kids could enjoy. So I took them to a huge home & garden center that had pulled out all the stops for Christmas. They loved it! There were singing reindeer, caroling cats, moving polar bears, clowns climbing ropes (how this related to Christmas is beyond me), Santa on a flying swan (and Santa in many other poses and actions), and enormous snowmen. There were more trees than I could keep count of, with Nicky insisting that Bob the Builder had put up each and every one of them. All the kids were good about not asking for everything we encountered, too! We picked up more food for our feathered friends, who made short work of the peanut wreath and suet we put out a few weeks ago, too. It's been so much fun to watch the birds and their antics. Rowen can say 'vogel' ('bird' in Dutch) very clearly now and likes to look out the window as soon as she wakes to see which birds are in the apple tree.

While the boys treated me to a fashion show this afternoon (dressing themselves up in all the coats/hats/mittens/shoes they could find in the entry hall), I sewed 6 more Santa Sacks for the nursing home. No one has called me back, so I will just stuff them with what seems appropriate to me. They need to be ready for delivery on 5 December, when Sinterklaas leaves gifts for all the good boys & girls. I am also ready to close up my Christmas envelope exchange piece, after adding some more bits of stitching to it here & there. Other than problems fitting on the incredibly long Malaysian address, it looks pretty good.

I've noticed that remarkably fewer people seem to be dropping by and can't help but wonder if I've gotten terribly dull without realizing it. Some of the racier blogs do HNT (half nekkid Thursday) so maybe tomorrow I'll try a new approach to drum up a bit of interest - look out!!

And for all my friends and family in the US, please eat an extra piece of turkey for me tomorrow and remember how much I like gravy. And stuffing. And the leftover turkey sandwich in the evening. Yum. Oh, and don't forget to give each other a big, huge hug from me! Anyone who's out traveling for the holiday, be safe.
22 November 2005
no car, but wonderful mail
The kids and I are just about to walk over to Max's school to pick him up (our car is in for the annual check-up) but before I leave I wanted to share with you what the mailman brought today.

First is a hand-written note from the organizer of the Healthy Families Charity that I sent an ornament to. Ms Toch wrote me a thank you note and included some pictures of the kids who are helped through her charity. What a kind & thoughtful gesture! No one seems to still write notes by hand ...

And after much waiting, my last Silkweaver order came in. I'd ordered 5 pieces of the lovely Lakeside Linen they had on their Odds & Ends page a few weeks back and here they are!! That amazing gold piece (Autumn Gold) is already spoken for - you'll be seeing it again in a few weeks looking very different!

Thanks for visiting!
21 November 2005
the 'book book'
Max loves his new book - he enthusiatically pointed out the things he liked best about it this morning. My signature inside had him puzzled, as I signed it "Mom" - he didn't recognize the American spelling. It's always such a shock to me when I realize that our kids have so little exposure to American culture in spite of our attempts to have a truly dual-cultural home. Anyway, Max learned a new word and is very enthusiastic about having his very own custom-created book. Thanks you all for your nice comments - and Von, I'll let you know if it actually helps improve his handwriting!
20 November 2005
more red and green
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we're book lovers in this family. Max still doesn't read for himself, though, so to try and encourage him to become a more active reader I've made him a "book book" in which he can write down something about each book we read together. It'll also give him some much-needed practice with his handwriting! We've been reading The Magic Treehouse books for awhile (thanks to my Mom sending them to him in regular installments!), so this 'book book' borrows from that theme - the gold M not only stands for Max (my son) but for Morgan (the Master Librarian in the series) and the fabric covering I chose for the book looks a little like the illuminated manuscripts in the volume we're currently reading. He hasn't seen it yet - I put it on his desk where he'll see it first thing in the morning.

I also found the time today to finish the main stitching for my Christmas mailart envelope exchange. This is "Reindeer Sampler" from Heart in Hand, but of course I've messed around with the colors and the chart to suit myself! This is stitched over one on a cotton evenweave I got from a grab bag last year. The front part of the envelope will have tiny primitive reindeer and the recipient's address. Hopefully I'll have it in the mail next weekend, though the due date isn't until December 5th.

The next project is a real last-minute, don't-have-time-for-it gift for Martina of Chatelaine designs to offer some support during a rough time. And then it's back to Christmas projects - the list is getting shorter!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:33 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
19 November 2005
ho ho ho - merry christmas!
This morning we took the children into town to see the arrival of Sinterklaas on his steamboat. Nicky and Max are old enough to get pretty excited about this event - yesterday Nicky actually dressed up as one of Sinterklaas' helpers and insisted that we call him "Zwarte Piet Nicky" all evening long! This was the first year that it hasn't rained and/or been bitterly cold for the event. It was also the first year that all our kids could walk around on their own. And one of the few years that I haven't been pregnant during this time of year. Lots of firsts! It was a lot of fun for the kids and for Niek & I. The boys got lots of cookies and candies, which are handed out by the "Zwarte Pieten" helpers (one of our neighbors, an occassional babysitter, was dressed up as a Piet this year!) and Rowen just had a great time walking around at her own pace and making everyone behind her slow down to smell the roses.

When we got home, our other neighbor brought over a small packet that had arrived for me. It was my Christmas squares for the nursing home! That was fast shipping on the part of a very helpful eBay seller called pamelab7. Pam was absolutely super about getting me a good deal on these fat quarters and sending them out super-quick once she understood their purpose. Thanks Pam!

I flipped over to Isabelle's blog for a refresher on how to make the drawstring bags and got right to work! (The boys are out having their hair cut, and there truly is no time like the present!) Isabelle's directions were as clear as I remembered, and in remarkably quick time (for me) I had completed my first two "trial" bags. They turned out so well that there was no need to waste a fat quarter on mistakes. Thanks, Isabelle!

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The only thing I didn't see were tips on coaxing your cord through the casing, but I remembered my Mom always used to put a safety pin on the end and just scoot that through to the end. Easy! I've used ribbon just to give an idea of how the bags look. I'll use cording with big wooden beads on the end (so the lady or gent who receives the bag won't constandly loose the ends inside the bag) for the final product. I'm going to make smaller bags so the recipient can easily carry his/her treasured items around in it. I remember my Grams liked to keep pennies and Life Savers in a little pouch she had when she was in a nursing home. I'll wrap any larger gifts seperately.

Thanks everyone for your help! In the background you can see a bit of my sewing machine, an ancient old beast from the V&D during the mid-60's. Of course you can also see all my sewing mess, too, but I was too impatient to take the time to clean up!
18 November 2005
who started this anyway?
It's too funny & clever to pass up, and I've just seen it again in Jo's blog, so here are my answers. I was a good girl and only took charts from my stash, and I limited myself to one answer per designer. (I will try to do this again later with pictures, but I'm pressed for time right now.) I'd like to give credit to the genius who thought this up - step forward, whoever you are!

(Edited to include pictures)

1. Are you male or female?
Mother and child, by The Cricket Collection
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2. Describe yourself.
1793 Dutch Sampler, by The Goode Huswife
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3. How do some people feel about you?
A Primitive Stocking, by CHS
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4. How do you feel about yourself?
One Zany Bird, by Elizabeth’s Garden
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5. Describe your love interest.
Come fly away, by Sheepish Designs
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6. Where would you rather be?
Alone with you, by Hester’s Needle
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7. Describe what you want to be.
Laughter, by Mosey N Me
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8. Describe how you live.
Country, by The Workbasket
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9. Describe how you love.
Forget Me Not by The Drawn Thread
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10. Share a few words of wisdom.
Bloom where you are planted, by La-D-Da
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16 November 2005
cat-crazy bookaholics
Together, Niek and I have somewhere around 3000 books in our library (not counting the children's books). When I was younger, there weren't many people around me who liked to read for fun - I was always being told to get my nose out of that book! But my Aunt Cindy loved to read. She could beat almost anyone at Scrabble. She loved cats (and all animals). She didn't eat meat. She was sort of my alternative hero when I was growing up, and we still enjoy the chances we have to get together. These two bookmarks will go out in tomorrow's mail for a little something under her tree this Christmas. I've jokingly warned Cathy that it's also been practice so I can contribute to next year's bookmark collection efforts for adult literacy - LOL. I finished these with a simple hemstitch and fringe. I'm not yet confident enough of my skills to try something more advanced. My bookmark-making has improved though, when I look back on the first two I tried. (These are numbers 3 and 4 - I'm still a baby at it!)

Here at home it's rained nearly all day. And rained hard! When it stops, the birds all come out and start running through the fallen leaves - are they looking for food? Playing? Just stretching their legs from being cooped up? I can relate to stretching their legs - this was a day off school for Max and with all three kids in our tiny house, I needed to get out, too! I gave each child an umbrella and we walked down to the local grocery store when it was only drizzling. Rowen nearly blew away with her umbrella and finally resorted to dragging it behind her. Nicky used his as a battling ram against any bushes or hedges he encounted. Max just ran with his, enjoying the feeling of resistance it gave. Two sacks of apples and one loaf of bread heavier, we headed for home. I can't complain, as this is the real Dutch autumn weather and we've simply been very fotunate with the sunny skies, mild temperatures, and dry weather.

Hope this finds you all well & happy!
14 November 2005
jack frost came to visit
Brrr! I wasn't ready for it, even though it is mid-November!

This morning we woke to a winter wonderland of frosted trees & plants, steaming waterways, and crunchy footsteps. I discovered I didn't have a scraper for our "new" car (Niek's lease car from work) and my hands took forever to warm up again. The kids were entranced by the changed landscape, which made the frost-tipped fingers much easier to bear/bare (forgive the pun!). (Credit for today's picture.)

Thank you all for your kind comments regarding Aunt Hattie's pillow. I hope to make the time after fitness tonight to do the finishing so I can get it in tomorrow's mail. Then it's on to the next project! Though I have kind of over-extended myself, I'm very enthusiastic about the things I have yet to do. The hardest part is simply picking which one to do next!
13 November 2005
it wouldn't be sunday
. . . if I didn't have something finished to show you. This is Aunt Hattie's Christmas gift - Drawn Thread's "For the Birds." Those of you who have stitched this before will notice that I've left off the two embellishments and changed some colors. This will become a pillow for her blue sofa in her blue living room, so I used more blues than the green/blue called for. I thought the dangling charms would just get in the way if she were to lean back on the pillow. I also made a goof in the border, though I'll be darned if I can trace back exactly where it happened. It's a pretty minor goof, and hopefully she won't notice it.

Sorry the picture lists to the side - I thought I had it straight on the scanner, but obviously I didn't. Good thing I never succeeded in my dream of becoming a carpenter - anything I built would be like the house that Jack built. LOL

Our Nikon CoolPix is apparently on borrowed time. Niek took it to the shop yesterday and they clucked over it and warned that it would need to be sent away, would probably take at least 6 weeks, and will almost surely cost over 150 euro to repair. Niek thinks we should go for a new one, but this was a birthday gift (from him) and I'm absurdly attached to it. What do you use, those of you who have digital cameras?

We've had a lovely Sunday here. The kids were great, and Nicky even let us wash his hair tonight without having to hold him down (joking! but usually he does put up a fight). Max asked me out of the blue if I knew who the best mother in the world was, after me. I gave up, and he announced "Grammie!" So there you have it, from the mouths of babes. Mom, you're great!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:38 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
November update: cutting back
How have you spent your Sunday morning?

I have finally completed a task I've put off for awhile now: getting rid of all our baby clothes. It's kind of difficult to accept that there will be no more babies in the family, but continuing to hold on to the clothes out of sentimentality when other people actually need them is just wrong. So I've spent the last 3 hours or so going through them for different charities and friends, packing them, and basically making everything ready to move them out the door tomorrow morning.

My friend Kelli will have a few pairs of pants, sweatshirts and such, together with the birth gifts for the boys. Co-worker Eric has the few things he requested for baby Sven, too.

The Next Step, a domestic violence shelter in my old hometime, will be receiving a very large box of new/nearly new baby/toddler clothes, a few new toys that I'd overlooked when packing things for the Katrina victims, and a few personal-care items for the women in the shelter. Although most of us think of the holiday season as time filled with family love, for far too many people that is not the case. Around the holidays, family violence often increases and women are forced to flee with their children, often having nothing beyond the clothes on their backs. I can't imagine a situation more traumatic.

There are 4 bags of less gently used, but still good quality baby clothes that I'm taking to the dropoff point today. Every town here has several drop off points for 2nd-hand clothes. I'm not sure how the clothes are re-distributed, but at least I know they will be used by someone who needs them.

And finally there are 2 more bags of new/nearly new clothes for newborns that I have yet to find a "home" for. These are typically Dutch clothes in that you cannot put them in the dryer, so I plan to find someplace here that specifially needs newborn clothes. If any Dutch readers know of such an organization, please let me know!

Our bedroom has a little less clutter now, and I have finally completed a task that I have really dreaded. It was so strange seeing the tiny outfits I bought for Rowen on the day we found out we were having a little girl instead of another boy. The pink outfits my mom sent, delirious with joy at finally having a granddaughter. Gorgeous hand-knitted sweaters from Sara. It helps a lot to know that the clothes will be worn and enjoyed once again.
posted by mainely stitching at 12:39 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
12 November 2005
I've seen this making the ciruit and I just swiped it from Jane's blog.

10 Favorites
Favorite Season: autumn in Maine
Favorite Sport: Pilates
Favorite Time: early morning
Favorite Color: orange? Green?
Favorite Actor: Donald Sutherland
Favorite Actress: Jodie Foster
Favorite Ice Cream: anything by Ben & Jerry’s
Favorite Food: anything very, very spicy
Favorite Drink: diet Coke
Favorite Place: wherever my family is

9 Currents
Current Feeling: A little bit lonely
Current Underwear Color: they come in colors?
Current Windows Open: Blogger, Outlook, Word, charts folder
Current Drink: water with some lemon
Current Time: 12:10 am
Current Mobile(s) Used: don’t own one
Current Show on TV: it’s off
Current Thought: What am I still doing up?
Current Clothes: T-shirt, sweater & sweat pants.

8 Firsts
First Nickname: Barb
First Kiss: I was 12
First Crush: ahhh … Joey in the 4th grade. I punched him in the nose.
First Best Friend: Wendy Carpenter, Campton NH
First Vehicle I drove: I have no idea! First one I owned was a VW Sirocco
First Job: family upholstery business
First Movie: Bambi, I think. Something Disney.
First Pet: my hamster Punker.
First Shave: I shaved my arms, not my underarms, when I was 9 or so. I was confused about what exactly was supposed to be shaved, or why.

7 Lasts
Last Drink : more water with lemon
Last Kiss: Niek
Last Time: last time for what?
Last Time Shaved: last time I had a shower
Last Web Site Visited: Jane’s blog
Last Movie Watched: I was just re-watching the original Aliens, but shut it off
Last Pill I Had: vitamins

6 Have You Evers
Have You Ever Broken the Law: Yes.
Have You Ever Been Drunk: Yep. In my wild youth ;-)
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn't Know: no
Have You Ever Been in the Middle/Close to Gunfire or Bomb Blast: No
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: Yep!
Have You Ever Broken Anyone's Heart: Oddly enough.

5 Things
Things You Can Hear Right Now: Train going by
Things on Your Bed: a very rumpled blanket and two squashed pillows
Things You Ate Today: You mean everything I ate today?!
Things You Can’t Live Without: Niek & the kids, family & friends, hope
Things You Do When You Are Bored: it just never happens with these little beasties around

4 Places You Have Been today
work, home, daycare, letter box

3 Things On Your Desk Right Now
Salt shaker, computer, surge protector/cable

2 Choices
Black or White: black
Hot or Cold: Depends on what.

1 Thing You Want To Do Before You Die
It would be nice to go out laughing.
posted by mainely stitching at 12:21 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
11 November 2005
RRs, SALs, & exchanges - I have to laugh!
Recently I made this big promise to myself that I was cutting back on outside stitching obligations so I would have more time to stitch for the kids, charity, and our home. And now, despite my best intentions, listen to this:

* My MA exchange group has decided to do a Christmas exchange after all, with a mailing deadline of 5 December!

* I've joined two SALs in my Stitching Smalls group for January!

* And I have an 18-month massive RR beginning around December!

I just have to laugh at myself.

Right now I'm working on my Aunt's Christmas gift. I do still have two (?) gifts to stitch and a few to finish, ha ha ha. Or since it's Christmas related, ho ho ho!

I have received the supplies I need for my SALs (my Stitching Bits and Bobs order arrived today!) and the stitching requirements aren't excessive.

I have received the linen and a special pattern for the RR (pictured below), but I really need to go through my stash for other suitable patterns. I need to come up with 8 or 9 houses/building scenes in total.

And somewhere before December 5th, I also need to get my Sinterklaas charity packets ready (drawstring bags filled with small gifts for nursing home residents) ... hmmm. Cloning isn't an option - the thought of two of me is just too terrifying to contemplate.

Anyway, while I reflect on what an outstanding job I have done cutting back on my outside obligations, you can oogle my SBB stash. It's laid out on my infamous lilac ice fabric. Zoanna, thanks a lot for the charity drawstring bag suggestion - I plan to make more charity packages (in the form of drawstring bags) for the local nursing home residents.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

(That fairie with an attitude is intended for Rowen, my darling daughter who will someday rule the world.)
10 November 2005
lilac - love it or hate it
Thank you for your suggestions on things to do with the lilac ice opalescent fabric. My problem isn't in thinking up new projects, but simply in the fact that I do not like the color at all. Stronger yet, I really dislike the color! Once again, if anyone wants to trade, please contact me. Otherwise I will probably toss it out on eBay and see what happens.

I have been stitching, though not enough, the last couple of days. I'm having a good time with "For the Birds" and am having fun imagining what I will do for my next project. I mean, which design I will ultimately go with. I know who it's for and what it will be, but not which design. I tend to be very spontaneous when choosing a design. Do you do that too, or do you plan it all out ahead of time?

And what about stitching things not to your taste? Like this dratted lilac ice - sure I could do any number of things with it, but I can't stand to do a project that I don't enjoy. That means I need to like the design, the fabric, the fibers, etc. Makes charity quilt squares a challenge as I would rather have someone pull out my toenails than stitch a Precious Moments design. (Just my taste! I think the ones I've seen done by other stitchers look great!!)

I hope this finds everyone well and happy!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:39 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
08 November 2005
Anna's blog entry today has me thinking of Dan (short for Dandelion, or Dandy-lion, depending on how goofy I was feeling) was my feline companion for many years. He outlasted one husband, a long-term boyfriend, and a few other characters. He never adjusted to life in the Netherlands though - Maine was Dan's home, heart & soul. And my allergeries to him became so severe that it was necessary to take him home to my Mom where he enjoyed life to the hilt for nearly a year. Dan never did learn to fear cars, and although Mom lives almost a full mile from the road, he tried to follow her to work one day. I take some comfort in the fact that he lived a pretty long (and very varied) life but never reached the sad stage of losing his stamina or health. Here's a fun picture of Dan helping Max learn the intricacies of walking with style.

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On the stitching front, I am happily busy with The Drawn Thread design "For the Birds" and I hope I'll be posting a finished picture soon. My list of Christmas gifts and obligations is shortening at a rate that I'm pretty satisfied with. I've had so much fun, too! Though I am eager to begin some of my own stitching, and also return to some charity stitching. I think I only have three more stitched pieces to go, plus some finishing.

I've been enjoying everyone's Silkweaver Halloween grab bags, but like Carol, I was not too thrilled with mine. Did I order too late? They certainly did not make any attempt to match my ordering history (which is embarassingly extensive) when they sent me three pink/purple pastel selections. I have never ordered pink or purple anything. I am very happy with my 32 ct. "Everglage" Jobelan and would happily double it. I'm intensely envious of Carol's "Vintage Pear" (I have a small piece that I've been drooling over). Anyway, the one piece I will truly never use, even if I live to 130 and stitch every day between now & then, is the 28 ct "Lilac Ice" (scroll down to solids on the Silkweaver link) Opalescent Lugana, measuring a whopping 18 x 36. So sad it had to be the biggest piece. I don't care for the glitter - it distracts me when I'm stitching - and I simply can't abide the color. If anyone would like to trade for it, I really love the boring neutrals, and I do have a preference for higher stitch counts. Let me know if you're interested, please!! Although I am still a very loyal Silkweaver customer, I've been so disappointed with my last two grab bags that I think I will take a pass on future grab bag opportunities.
06 November 2005
sunday is a good day
It seems like I can count on Sunday to finish projects. I like that. Between us, Niek and I manage to keep the kids happily occupied and still manage to pursue some of our own interests. That was especially challenging today, as Nicky kept us up from 4 am to 6 am (without a break) and then we brought him to bed with us. My eyelids weigh about 3 pounds each today.

Nonetheless ... voila! Here is the completed pillow/ornament for Jim and Gaby. The cording I did for Niek's pillow came out better, but I had a lot more fiber to work with, and it was thicker strands. This is made using the same Needle Necessities I did the stitching with (1412) but NN pre-cuts their fibers. That made it pretty hard to do cording. Can you tell where one section of cording leaves off and another begins?

This design is pretty far from my usual fare, but I've been trying to make something that Gaby especially will like. I hope I've succeeded! I stitched this on 28 ct. "basketweave" Lakeside Linens. The design is based on the Passione Ricamo "Stitcher's Set" freebies (available from their website), but I took enormous liberties - I've added beads (Mill Hill 'frosted green bottle'), changed the top & bottom of the design, put in initials, etc. In the end, it really does look like what I think Gaby will like. Since I've never met her, though, it's really a gamble!

It is now evening - Niek and Nicky are making dinner while Rowen tries on various shoes (hers as well as everyone else's). Max is enjoying the circus that's in town with his best friend. We'd intended to take the wee beasties, too, but neither of us really felt quite up to that after last night. We did enjoy a wonderfully fun walk on the beach yesterday though.

And a very late - but happy - postscript to the sad story of our dog and his removal to the dog pound. Late Friday evening I received a call from his new owners. She was concerned about his occassional aggressive/territorial behavior, which is atypical for French bulldogs. Apparently the dog pound did not give her all the information I gave them! After quickly determining that there were no young children in the house and filling her in on Xavier's history, she felt much more aware of how to handle him as a dog. She & her partner are experienced dog owners and have already put him through an obedience course. And they've renamed him - Bob! That's too funny as it's my dad's name (and my dad is one of the only people Xavier would ever listen to). Nicky has a scar above his eye where the dog bit him and remains afraid of dogs, but we are working on that.
05 November 2005
my first MA exchange receipt!

Today my Halloween mailart arrived - thus completing my first official exchange! Thank you Anke, for the fun envelope and the glow-in-the-dark spools of Kreinik. My oldest is already thinking up what to ask for that uses them! He also took the 3-D witch card as soon as I'd taken a picture of it. Not sure what we'll do with the pumpkin seeds but maybe we'll try planting them in the plantsoen (a sort of community green place, in English) by our house.

I'm awaiting the start of the winter/Christmas MA exchange through MailArt Friends!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:49 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
04 November 2005
when a gift isn't really a gift, sort of
or alternately titled, Freebie Woes

Dear wonderful, generous friends out there who have sent me freebies that I've missed out on - thank you one and all!

But recently I have received a few emails regarding the LHN design, "Little House Sampler" from people who have suddenly realized that this 'freebie' is actually a so-called 'gift with purchase' and are terribly upset over an accidental violation of copyright law. The spirit in which the chart was shared was not one meant to flaunt laws or the integrity of the design or to serve any other malign purpose. Few of us, myself included, have ever heard of a 'GWP' chart. It seems to be some sort of mutually beneficial cooperative effort between the LNS and designers. Apparently you can only recieve such a design when you have actually made a purchase from a participating LNS. If your LNS does not participate, tough luck. I don't really think this is fair, but that isn't really the point I'm trying to make. (Though designers: Please do spare a thought for your faithful fans who live in areas where there is no LNS or no participating LNS! Take a page from the book of Kathy Barrick-Dieter who has actually sent me her freebies when I've contacted her - all the way from Europe!)

Ahem. Sorry, I do have a bit of a sore spot on that issue. But the point I am trying to make is that the designer bears the responsibility of making a freebie clearly different from a non-freebie. A good cyberfriend was terribly upset to find out that she'd sent me the chart "illegally" and it simply isn't fair to make good, honest people feel bad when the matter at hand is so ambiguous!

That's my little soapbox speech for today. I would be interested in hearing your opinions on freebies. I think they should be a reward for the loyal customer and an introduction to make new customers. I got interested in Prairie Schooler, for instance, because I so enjoyed stitching their numerous freebies. Should non-freebies ('gifts with purchase') be used as some sort of marketing ploy between the LNS and the designer? Isn't a gift, once given, up to the recipient to use as she sees fit? It's a gray area for me, that's the only thing I know for sure.

Connie, thank you for sending me The Workbasket Quaker square freebies. I really like them, and they'll be perfect for ornaments and fobs to work on my finishing skills!
03 November 2005
tight fit
The twins' birth gifts are finally ready to be posted, though I fear I won't make it to the post office today. It's Thursday, which means I have 4 kids here for the afternoon ... that postal lady I had last time will run screaming if she sees me coming with "extra" kids!

The pieces are a bit of a tight fit with the mat, but either the mat cutter or I mis-measured (probably me) and the cross stitch pieces (which are mounted on another piece of matboard) are a bit too small for the frames without the edging mat. So... Does it look okay?

The twins for whom these were created are absolutely adorable. The mommy, my friend Kelli, sent me this Halloween picture of the boys dressed up as Care Bears. Have you ever seen anything cuter?

Kelli is a friend from way back in 6th grade. Though we fell out of touch for many years, she looked me up & contacted me a couple of years ago and we've really enjoyed emailing back & forth since then. I can't wait to meet these little sweeties in person when we visit Maine again next summer!
before I do one more thing
I've had a bit of an energy ebb the last couple of days, but last night I "went to bed with the chickens" as the Dutch say. Niek was still reading to Max when I said goodnight and tucked myself in. I woke up feeling slightly better than roadkill, so I may do that again tonight.

And now that I've got the wits to put one foot in front of the other without tripping, I want to say thank you to some special friends.

Cathy, thank you ever so much for your perserverence! The postman snuck an envelope in that you posted only 4 days ago (!) with two wonderful LHN freebies. "Two Sheep" is just too adorable!

Lelia, thank you for your generosity and all the time at the computer you have spent scanning in freebies for me! Here in Europe, it is nearly impossible to get the freebies that are normally distributed by LNS's. And many designers, such as Little House Needleworks, require a SASE to send freebies, which is a problem if you don't have acceess to American stamps. Thanks, Lelia, for putting me 'back in the loop!'.

Thanks to Juul for showing me the error of my ways - there is waste canvas here! The woman at my LNS told me it does not exist in the Netherlands and said I would have to purchase regular linen and use that. I am very glad, in this instance, to be wrong! And I will check out the framer in Maasluis, too!

And thank you all for coming here to visit me and leave comments - your support really & truly makes my day!

This morning I put the finishing stitches on the twins' birth pieces, which I will frame today. I'll post the pictures as soon as the project is done.

Wishing you all a supercalifragilistic day!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:24 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
01 November 2005
floss floozies!
Awhile back, Maria was making me terribly envious with her talk of amazing bargain finds. Like whole baggies full of DMC floss on sale for 99 cents with an additional 20% reduction. She and her friend bought a "lifetime supply" (as if that's possible - LOL) and dubbed themselves the Floss Floozies. I told her I would never make it to floss floozie-hood because Dutch people never sell anything cheap. (I say that with a certain amount of admiration for my adopted - or adoptive - country.) Well, you can't imagine my surprise when the mailman brought me a fat envelope just stuffed with yummy DMC floss! For a laugh, she left the price tags on to prove that she really was telling the truth. What a deal!

Now I really wish I could stitch with my toes. Annemarie also sent me some charts today for the house RR we are going to do after the Christmas holidays.

The mailman is almost back in my good graces. There is still the LHN freebie that Cathy sent me ages ago that he never delivered....