29 March 2006
up to my eyebrows in lizzie*kate
Yes, I'm still working on my mailart exchange, which is just taking so much longer than the other ones I've done. I think the problem is that I'm not the hugest L*K fan, and I need to push myself to work on it. It is coming out very nicely, I must say. I've stitched the Bloom freebie on the front side, and I'm doing a variation on the Summer ABC's on the back side. I'm on the letter N, so there's still a ways to go. I will post a picture, somehow, when it's done.

The kids have kept me really busy the last days, which has seriously cut into my stitching time. By the time they're finally in bed, I'm ready to go to sleep too! Hopefully the weather will really turn into spring soon and they can burn off some of that energy outside!
27 March 2006
my turn
To spread the word of a friend's computer woes, that is. Annemarie's friend Harmien just contacted me to say that Annemarie's been stuck with a very unfriendly computer that isn't allowing her to do much of anything these days. Apparently Annemarie has lots of new pictures to share, so this is a great frustration to her (not to mention a loss to us!). Hopefully the situation will be short-lived. Seems like the 'puter gremlins are winning more than they're losing lately!
posted by mainely stitching at 12:09 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
25 March 2006
spring is in the air, and I'm playing catch-up

Today is the first day that I can really feel Winter's grasp slackening. The sky is blue, the birds are busy, and the air has that smell of spring. Finally! Though it wasn't at all a tough winter, it has felt like a very long one. I got a huge shock when I realized that our wedding anniversary is less than 2 months away - May just seemed like some unattainable goal until this morning. Fortunately, I have just the perfect little project to whip up for him, thanks to The Sampler Girl!

My better half surprised me by taking the camera in to work the other day and uploading the few pictures on it. Since I didn't know he was going to do that, I hadn't taken any recent pictures of projects, but I can finally show you the sea turtle that I did for Calen's quilt (Quilts4Kids) and my botched Dearest Friend ornament (which looks fine from the front side, but awful from the back - the finishing stitch I'd tried didn't hold, and I had to do a quick save to prevent the whole thing from unravelling). The turtle may well look familiar, as I did it in other colors for another quilt square - you can see it here. Now that I know Niek can upload pictures, I will send him to work with a loaded camera next week. I'm particularly eager to show Annemarie's RR, which is practically all I've worked on. Today I will also have to put in some overtime on a Lizzie*Kate mailart that's due on April 1st.

I hope wherever you are and whatever you're doing, it brings joy.
24 March 2006
still here!
Hi everyone. Sorry to have disappeared for a week. Thank you to everyone who has contacted me to make sure I'm still on the right side of the grass and that nothing catastrophic has taken place. No meteors have hit our house, nor have I been abducted from aliens. I've just been kind of quiet this week. Not being able to post pictures sucks (excuse me for being so rude) and it does take a lot of the fun out of blogging. It's so fun to share projects as they evolve. But last night, Niek finally said we should get a replacement computer for home that does everything we need/want ... so watch this space. Hopefully it won't take ages to decide (laptop vs desktop) and purchase (store vs mail order).

What have I been doing? Stitching wise, I've worked on Annemarie's neighborhood RR and although I haven't done a whole lot, I've really enjoyed it so far. I'm using elements from a number of different designs, and am currently busy with the part that's borrowed from Prairie Moon's EIEIO design. That means some larger blocks of solid color, which I find a little bit tedious, but I like their designs so much that it's worth it. I haven't been stitching as much because I've been going to fitness more and because the kids have been demanding more Mommy Time during the day.

On the home front, it's been oddly busy lately. Thankfully, no one is ill or having any problems, it's just been a weird time. Does this come up in other families, too? I'm not sure how it will all unwind, but I'll keep you posted.

This weekend will not see enough hours dedicated to stitching as we are spending Sunday with Niek's sister at her new(ish) apartment. The kids and I have never been, though she's been living there for months, so a visit is long overdue.

Today, Max and Niek are at NEMO, a science museum in Amsterdam. It's Niek's first time as chaperone, and I'm sure he'll enjoy it so much I won't get a chance to do it for ages. LOL. For those who know him, Niek's truly gifted with kids - they love him, and vice-versa. Max was a little disappointed not to be in his Daddy's group, but kids are never assigned to their parents. However, Max's best buddy is in Niek's group and was very enthusiastic about it. I hope they're having fun.

As for me, I should be working. Better get back to it. Once again, thanks very much for checking in. Sorry to leave everyone in the lurch like that. I wish you all a very happy weekend.
posted by mainely stitching at 11:24 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
19 March 2006
real-life dust bunnies and other adventures
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Max is away this weekend and I thought I'd give his bunny's cage a thorough cleaning this morning. And learned that I should really follow my own advice! If you have to leave the bunny for even a second, put her in her travel box! I stepped out of the room to get some paper to wipe out her cage, and when I stepped back into the room I startled her - she jumped straight up in the air from Max's bed and went backwards over the built-in bookcase to land in a tiny 1 inch gap between the built-in bookcase and a bookcase that is wedged in in such a way that you can only get it out by standing on Max's bed and lifting it straight to the ceiling. I started clearing off the bookcase to lift it, listening for any bunny sounds. There were none. I feared the worst... Finally, I was able to lift the bookcase out (I guess I'm in better shape than I thought) and there was a tiny dark splotch in the corner ... that moved! Hooray! She got away from me while I was breathing a huge sigh of relief, but I soon had her back in her (clean) cage and set about cleaning up the 2 year accumulation of dust and small objects that had been dropped down the hole. What a chore! But the bunny's cage and Max's room are now clean!

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Yesterday was a great day with Annemarie. We checked out the Naald en Draad LNS in Roermond. I would've loved to have bought some linen banding that was perfect for The Sampler Girl's charts Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility ... but at 20 euro a meter, it was just too rich for my blood! I did splurge on some of the DMC linen floss - after looking at it and feeling of it, I think I will enjoy stitching with it. I've got a little BOAF sampler in mind that would look fantastic using it. For the most, I picked up some odds & ends and simply enjoyed being in a real LNS. After shopping, Annemarie drove us over to her home and I was able to meet Pelle and Jula. Pelle and I took turns cracking each other up, while Jula whipped up a delicious meal apparently out of thin air. I had a great time - thank you Annemarie & Jula! And I'm now in possession of Annemarie's neighborhood RR! I took it out when I got home and started going through my charts - a big pile of "no way" and a small pile of "maybe" charts soon resulted. Finally, I decided on elements from several designers: Prairie Moon, Carriage House Samplings, The Goode Huswife, and Elegant Designs. I've put in a couple of pictures (from the SB&B site) of designs I'll be borrowing from, just to tease a bit. As for my something wacky to go into the neighborhood, in all honestly the whole block will be rather wacky. I'm eager to start it now, but I have this mailart exchange that is due out by the end of the month... To be responsible and meet the earliest deadline first, or to just go for it ...?

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Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:32 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
17 March 2006
a SEX-y weekend
My order from Stitching Bits and Bobs finally arrived! My heavens, this was the longest wait yet - it was a pre-order for the Nashville market. But the problem was that this chart (A Canadian Journey) didn't arrive from Italy in a timely fashion. I was considering driving over to pick it up in person! LOL

Also in the order was my booklet for A Most Noble Pursuit. As much as I've looked forward to getting this, I've also been a little nervous - what if it didn't live up to my (very high) expectations? Phew! I like it even better IRL! The pictures I've seen at various ONSs just don't do it justice.

There were also three letters from the Carriage House Samplings alphabet series that had gone walkabout on me and 4 more skeins of WDW bittersweet. If you can believe it, these 4 skeins are radically different than the 2 skeins I had on hand (which were also radically different from each other). I think I will have to do some pre-cutting, mixing, and matching to get an even overall look. Like Patti, I'll do all the letters with bittersweet used for the bottom block. I am still debating: over-one, or over-two? I love the look of over-one, but I don't want to limit myself to only being able to work on it on sunny days (like my languishing CHS Primitive Stocking and La-D-Da's Miss Mary Mack).

In the same SB&B order (yes, I blew the budget on this one) were the first three from The Sampler Girl's Jane Austen Collection: Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park. (I had already received Sense and Sensibility directly from Tanya.) Annemarie and I are going to do these four together, though very informally rather than in a sort of a SAL. Looking at them (again and again - these are really very appealing designs), I finally decided that Mansfield Park is my favorite. I think it's the ship and the reference to Portsmouth. Yes, I've lived here nearly 9 years, but at heart I'm an East coast girl. A Downeaster, to be specific.

My only peeve about the SB&B order is that the chart pack for A Canadian Journey does not include any finishing instructions at all; you have to purchase one of the Judy O'Dell books for another $20 (plus shipping, of course!). The chart already cost $20, so I have to admit, I was expecting finishing directions! I really, really have a bone to pick with designers who portray a finished project but do not include the instructions for the finishing. Ash brought this up several months ago, and I know a lot of other people have encountered this frustrating experience.

Tomorrow I'm off to Roermond to meet up with Annemarie. Not only will I get to take her neighborhood RR home with me, but we will also go to the Naald & Draad, which is a great source for Jan Hoffman designs. His designs, such as The Garden Sampler, shown here, are breath-taking.

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For me, tomorrow will be a like a mini-vacation. A whole day spent in the company of a friend who also loves stitching ... and without my kids! Niek is playing Mr Mom tomorrow and I will luxuriate in a whole day of not needing to take care of anyone. Wow!! I hope you'll also enjoy a wonderful weekend.
16 March 2006
needle case made a safe arrival
As part of the March Brightneedle SAL (StitchingSmallsSAL), I made "Home" into a needle book for Maria S. and it's already arrived! She was kind enough to scan it for me and adds the following text to accompany the picture:

"Here's a scan of the needlecase. Because it came from Holland I added a braclet my Belgian grandfather found way before the last war. All the coins date from 1925 except one that is 1917."

The verse on the back reads "Sharp or dull here they dwell". It's a phrase and design I came up with myself. Below that are Maria's initials and mine with a heart in between. It's all stitched over one except two of the letters from the back and the 'frame' around the front design. The intent was to look a bit primitive, not like an ambitious 5 year old did it. LOL

Today's Thursday, which means HoHRH. The weather is gray and if it doesn't rain today, I'll be very surprised. It's also our Four Kids Day, as Max's best buddy will come over for the afternoon. Max is very eager to show his new bunny off to his best pal. Gilbert is flying loose, trying to steal bread crusts from the kids' breakfast leftovers. Just a normal morning here... :-)

Sorry for yesterday's self-pitying post, and thanks for your understanding. I plan to work on Niek a bit more tonight about getting a real computer that can actually do everything. Cross your fingers!
15 March 2006
geen zin (or "i've lost my spark")

I just don't feel very much like stitching these days. I really think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I can't post any pictures. This month marks my one-year anniversary online (my Cyberstitchers' gallery) and I really had been looking forward to making something of a gala event of it. Instead, here I am reduced to using pictures of old projects or none at all. Maybe my outing on Saturday with Annemarie to a real LNS will enliven me and I'll get into it again. I certainly have plenty of interesting projects: finishing Max's dragon, the Quaker mystery, Houses of Hawk Run Hollow ... and soon I'll be starting the CHS alphabet series (assuming my SB&B order arrives before the next ice age) and a French counting sampler for the nursery (waiting on some VC silks for that one). There's also the new round of our round robin coming up - I get to stitch on Annemarie's neighborhood.

Around the homefront, the kids are doing alright. Nicky and Rowen still have a lingering cold that looks like it will linger till spring. Max is about to hit a growth spurt, if I'm reading the signs right. He and his bunny are bosom buddies and his reading is going a lot better, too. I've just started a pretty aggressive round of antibiotics in an attempt to finally eradicate my skin problems and I'm finally dealing with my, erm, stress issues. Maybe by summer I'll be a calm, clear-skinned, healthy person. I'd especially like that if I also had a computer that would upload images!
14 March 2006
i guess i never outgrew picture books
Yes, folks it is driving me seriously nuts that I can't post pictures here. I tried again, using the scanner, but it still didn't work. Today I'm posting an older picture of a poodle I made for my mom because it totally cracks me up and because my mom called me at 4 am her time to cheer me up. (It worked, Momsie, thanks!)

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I was a good girl today and got my quilt square off to Linde in Australia and my neighborhood RR off to Rachael in Germany. I felt very worldly at the post office. LOL. Both should arrive by the end of the week or beginning of next week. I took a picture of the quilt square because I'm sure that someday I'll be able to upload all the pictures on my camera.

The sun is shining brightly and some crazy people are talking about housework. Crazies. It's got to be against some law of nature to do housecleaning on a sunny day. It's easy for me to talk, though, because Niek did some serious tidying up here while I was at yoga last night.

Today I really should take advantage of the sun to do some stitching. I could finally get the right color for Max's dragon wings. Time is getting tight on that - only 4 weeks till his birthday, and framing (if I go that route) takes about 10 days. I could also work on one of my over-one projects. I could work on my Quaker sampler, but some little imp has hidden my silk from me. I think I will work on Max's dragon. I would love to have it done in time, especially as he isn't expecting a gift (his bunny is for his birthday).
12 March 2006
can turtles dance?
Another silly title, but my brain is sort of hiccupy from far too little sleep. This weekend has been something of a bust for stitching (I had such plans!) but I did manage to just put in the last stitches of Calen's quilt square, which I will mail out on Tuesday to Quilts4Kids. I'll take a picture, too, in case I come across a 'puter with a working port. I did the turtle freebie from Blue Turtle Designs again, but I did it very differently this time. I like it better. I hope Calen likes it, too!

Max and Nachtegaal are already thick as thieves. Usually you think of a boy and his dog, but Max isn't much of a dog person. His little bunny, however, is just the ticket. Nicky and Rowen get a big kick out of her, too, and keep asking Max if they can go up and look at her. Surprisingly, Nachtegaal doesn't mind all the attention and bursts of activity at all. I get to bunny-sit next weekend while Max is away. can't wait!

On the health front, Niek can't seem to find his stride after being ill, and I'm again confronted with the fact that I am a lousy nurse. After taking night duty the past few nights (to allow Niek more rest), I'm just no fun to be around. Nicky was fine yesterday, but tonight it looked like he might have a relapse. Cross your fingers and toes that he doesn't! Rowen and Max remain healthy, knock wood, and I've done what I can to keep the cooties away from them.

I'm reading The Time Traveler's Wife right now, by Audrey Niffenegger, and it's hard to put down. So far, it's far & away the best book of this month's reading list.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:31 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
11 March 2006
swimming through saturday
What a silly title. I'm doing the Blue Turtle Designs sea turtle freebie again, this time for Calen, a Quilts4Kids kid, which is my excuse for the title. This time, I'm doing it in blues, greens, and purples. So far, so good. I'd show you a picture, if only I could. Adding insult to injury, so far the insurance is actually refusing to pay for the stolen computer. Apparently they agree with the police that one must draw one's curtains and lock one's doors at all times, whether home or not. Can you believe it? And this is what we pay our insurance premiums for? I'll stop now. grumble grumble

I've been mulling over Vikki's silks again. They are so wonderful. I'd like to buy some more, for a few projects I've intended to start. I'm probably crazy. Niek would roll his eyes if he were here. Where is he, you wonder? Well, I may have woken up feeling nearly normal again, but he woke up feeling horrible. Yep, it's his turn. He tried to accompany us on a bike ride down to the library, but before too long he looked kind of greenish and decided to return home.

And the biggest news for last: We have a new member of our family! She's tiny, soft, and very cuddly. Max has found his bunny, or his bunny found him: I'm not sure which! When I tucked him in bed tonight, it was as if she'd always been here. For those who aren't aware of the full story, Max has asked for a bunny relentlessly for about 2 years now and I've said no. I love bunnies, but if he's going to have a pet, he has to be able to care for it. Finally, at Christmas, I said I'd entertain the thought of a birthday bunny IF he'd first prove to me he'd learned how to take care of it, had made arrangements for bunny's welfare when he isn't home, and would set aside a certain amount of his weekly allowance for bunny's care. He has checked out and read every book on bunnies in the children's section of the library and has covered a wall with notes! We're very proud of that, because Max is nearly a year behind in his reading and this really proves he can do it. He's just done an excellent job showing that he's ready for the responsibility, so we've been keeping an eye out for the 'right' bunny even though his birthday isn't till next month. And today, we found her - a charcoal-colored dwarf rabbit, only 6 weeks old. He's named her Nachtegaal (Dutch for Nightingale). She's a sweetie. :-)
10 March 2006
now where did *that* come from?
Gosh, I laughed myself silly last night. Till it occurred to me that my belly suddenly didn't have that pleasantly 'over-laughed' feeling, but something more ominous. Maybe I overdid it at yoga, I rationalized, and went up to pour a bath. Instead of feeling better, I emerged feeling absolutely wretched. Childbirth doesn't even cast a shadow on how bad I feel when I have the Dreaded Stomach Flu. Poor Niek was worrying over me when we heard the unmistakable sounds of Nicky joining in his Mommy's misery. It was an interesting night. Poor Niek had to play nursemaid and cleaning lady, and even had to stay home today. Tonight, when we were putting the kids to bed (everyone feeling reasonably alright again), Max found a chunk of apple by the door. "Now where did that come from?" he wondered. His dad told him he really didn't want to know.

Ah, but some good things appeared today, too! Just a few days ago, I ordered all three of Tanya's new March releases. You have got to look a them! And amazingly enough, all three arrived today! Tanya, thank you so much for packing them in plastic. Our moronic mailman left our mail out in the pouring rain today. grumble grumble I also received my Silkweaver FOTM, which was two very nice pieces of blue fabric. Normally blue isn't my color, but these are really nice: Seaside Melody and Blue Fusion. Nicky told me they were for Daddy. :-) I'm assuming he means I'm supposed to make something for Niek on them, rather than Niek picking up a needle and joining me. I think that would be really nice, actually, but he's very happy with the hobbies he currently has.

I didn't get much done on HoHRH today, just feeling altogether too awful for most of the day. Glad you all enjoyed my little progress pic yesterday. ;D And yes, I do railroad! LOL!
09 March 2006
and thursday is ...
Do you remember those old commercials from Prince spaghetti? Anthony always ran home because Wednesday was Prince Spaghetti Day? I never got that commercial. I was such a literal kid. I wanted to grow up and marry Mr. Spock. I actually called in to a call-in radio show when I was in junior high school to ask what 'hump day' meant. Being terribly literal, I thought adults had appointed a day to get their marital obligations out of the way. (I am not making this up, that's the sad thing.)

Ahem. I've not had enough sleep, and when that happens, I tend to veer off into uncharted waters very suddenly. Sorry.

So, Thursday is finally Houses of Hawk Run Hollow Day. Phew, that's a mouthful. I don't think any Italian ladies are going to bellow that out of their tenement windows. But today I finally, finally got HoHRH started. Naturally, my start began with a non-start. I own an embarassing array of DMC flosses. I had them listed on my old computer (you remember, the one that let me upload pictures?) and there were over 300. So you'd think I would have practically every color they've put out. But nope, every time I pick up one of Kathy's designs (from CHS or Barrick Designs), I seem to be missing nearly half the colors called for. Every time! How is that possible? I'm beginning to suspect she owns part of DMC. LOL. I adore Kathy's designs and she is one of the nicest, most helpful, most open designer I've met. She even put some of my projects on her website!

But I'm digressing again. This time I was only missing 13 colors. I really wanted to start, but 5 of the missing colors were for the first house ... to cough up the obscene amount of 1.50 euro per skein and start today, or mail order them and wait for their arrival? Finally I took the plunge and spent nearly 20 euro (or $23) for 13 skeins of DMC. They are lovely colors - I can't imagine why I didn't already own them. In addition to going out to purchase these, I had to wind other floss onto bobbins. Maria S. has made me an honorary floss floozie, to my utter delight, and her last batch of floss included 3 of the colors I needed - but they were loose and needed to be wound. Which my kids took as a sort of challenge. When they weren't writing on the floor with magic markers, they were festooning themselves, the cat, and the furniture with strands of floss. sigh At least Gilbert wasn't flying loose, or he'd have probably made a nest of them.

Eventually everything was ready, though by now it was after 3 pm and I had 4 kids at home. So this is what I got done (I don't even need to upload a photo):


90 x's in DMC 780 (one of my new ones). Pretty, isn't it? I particularly like the way it promises more to come ...
08 March 2006
... please stand by ...
We are experiencing technical difficulties, please stand by.

Ah, folks, it's just so exasperating. Yes, I am grateful to have a computer again - it was lonely away from all of you! But this thing has got some sort of jinx on it. It is slow. I mean, get-up-and-make-coffee slow. And there is something wonky with the ports - it will no longer recognize my camera, which means I can't upload the pics of the Brightneedle projects now that they are finish-finished. sigh

Neither of them came out perfect, anyway. I have discovered how to do the nun's stitch backward. Looks lovely, but isn't much good for holding the fabric intact once you've cut it. I'd made My Dearest Friend into an ornie, but it 'popped' when I stuffed it. Some quick stitching has it back together, but the backside isn't very pretty anymore. Grasping the error of my ways, I did something a little different with Home, which is a needlebook, and used the Nun stitch to whipstitch a piece of hand-dyed cotton inside. It isn't perfect, but it looks reasonably okay and will go out in tomorrow's mail to a far-off friend. Perhaps she can take a picture and email it to me, and then I can post it....
07 March 2006
"history has turned the page"
I finally got my ears (re)pierced today. I've intended to do this since I had my hair cut short about 6 months ago, but I never have time or the time is never right. So today I simply did it - took all three kids to the piercing salon that had the best rating for hygiene and said 'do it!'

The first time I had my ears pierced, I was 10 years old. My mom had told me I'd have to wait till I was older, but that year she made me get this incredibly dorky Dorothy Hamill 'do. I looked like such a loser - that helmet hairdo was not made for tomboys with wide faces & high foreheads. But on the bright side, I could get my ears pierced! My mom was worried about hygiene long before it became fashionable, so I went to a real medical doctor to have my lobes punctured. It was terribly exciting. I remember the first pair of earrings that I picked out were tiny golden turtles. I thought they were the ultimate in beauty, sophistication, and coolness.

In startling contrast to the anonymous, safe, professional doctor's office of 20+ years ago, today's piercing salon is quite a shock to the system. In hindsight, I shouldn't have brought the kids, but how was I to know? It didn't even really register on me at first, so maybe they weren't even aware of what they were looking at. (Nicky was busy playing with the chairs anyway.) I mean, did you know some of the places people actually get pierced? Do you want to? I was sitting there, staring at the wall, when all of a sudden it dawned on me what that poster was portraying! Piercings there?! Of course, I blushed terribly. So much for even the faintest vestige of coolness. Some middle-aged woman with three kids coming in to simply get her earlobes pierced and who blushes through the entire procedure!

Like many girls, one piercing ultimately led to more, but I've got weird ears. The holes would grow shut right around the posts. Or I'd get a nasty infection and have to take the posts out and the holes would grow shut. The only holes in my ears that ever "worked" were those that the doctor put in when I was 10, and I did my best to keep them open even after I stopped wearing earrings after my kids were born. (The babies viewed them as some sort of exercise equipment and tried to do chin-ups holding on to them.) But when I got my hair cut short recently, I discovered that the doctor's holes had grown completely shut.

I will spare you the ordeals of my pierced nose (which has also grown closed).

I wonder if they still make little golden turtle earrings...?

PS: The title quote is from Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On"
05 March 2006
just a little happy dance

I finished the stitching on both Brightneedle smalls that I'd hoped to do this weekend. And I've even picked out the stuff I'll use to finish them this week into a needlebook and a pinkeep/fob. Yay! I know I showed the Home design before, but the colors came out much truer in this scan.
posted by mainely stitching at 11:11 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
but what have the kids been up to?

Yesterday was my father-in-law's birthday celebration. The party was held in a very unique restaurant in Oudewater, (follow the link for some gorgeous photos) where most of Niek's family lives (or has lived) - fortunately, there was room enough for the grandkids to stretch their legs and play a bit, so the grownups could enjoy each other, too. Rowen was thrilled to get dressed up in her red velvet party dress, a birthday gift from my Mom, and Nicky wore a new vest with turtles and sailboats that was also a gift from his Grammie. Niek and I were definately outshone by the kids. :-)

Tomorrow will be a return to the regular schedule after the week of school vacation we've just had. The vacation at this time of year is called the crocus vacation, named, I assume, for the tiny little crocuses that poke their bright heads out of the snow and mud that are a hallmark of this time of year. Max and I were able to spend a whole day together - a true treasure in a big, busy family like ours! We took the train to Amsterdam and just did whatever we felt like doing. We splurged on a horse-drawn carriage ride along the lovely canals that criss-cross Amsterdam's center. (Max was so excited I half expected he'd spring right out of the carriage, or that his head would go all the way around from his attempts to see everything at once.) He also greatly enjoyed the street performers, particularly the ones who imitate statues. We managed to hit all the stores of interest to an (almost) 8 year old boy as well. Our train ride home, sadly, was a bit of a disaster ... Nicky and Rowen were actually stranded at the daycare after closing hours as Max and I were trapped in a non-moving train. Our homeward journey took us 2 1/2 hours instead of the 50 minutes it should take. Next time, we'll drive!

Nicky has really gotten the hang of toilet training and is even diaper-free at night now. Rowen has been very busy caring for her dolls. LOL If this is any indication of her future mothering skills, that girl is going to be the Earth Mother.

We're truly gifted with our wee beasties. I cannot imagine how empty my life would seem without them - crayon-colored sofas and squabbles and all!

On the stitching front, I started Brightneedle's "Dearest Friend" last night over-one on 27 ct linen. I didn't get too far because I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find the DMC to match the color key. I finally decided to just do it in my own choice of colors, but stayed with the muted tones of the original.

What do you think of the new Prairie Schooler designs? I really like Birdsong II, but it'll have to wait .... I'm still waiting on the Nashville pre-order I placed with Stitching Bits & Bobs quite awhile ago. The bright side of the slow delivery is that I was able to add a couple of letters from the CHS alphabet series that had gone walkabout. (There is always a silver lining ...)
04 March 2006
maybe I should've gone to bed instead
but I really wanted to finish the stitching on this little darlin'. Stitched over one on 32 ct. clay Belfast linen, it's about the same size as the #28 petite needle I used to stitch it. The design is a Brightneedle freebie "Home is where the heart is" that Su sent me. Thanks, Su!

The camera's still being very naughty about colors, but Niek re-installed our old photo editor so I was able to tweak it.

And now, I'm off to bed. We celebrate my FIL's birthday with a big family dinner in a restaurant and I need to get some rest for that!
posted by mainely stitching at 12:48 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
03 March 2006
frazzled Friday
Last night I was up till 12:30 working from home to try to catch up on all I've missed during the kids' vacation week. I knew we were out of all the breakfast essentials, but I figured I could pop out to pick stuff up early in the morning and still be back in time to get everyone out the door (including me) on time. But we woke up to a true winter wonderland. My horrible-rotten-no-good camera would only register a white, fuzzy, blob (like photos of a seance with a 'spirit' hovering around) but Anneke's photos are great. Go look!

Anyway, we were all late with one thing and another, but by 10 am I was in the office and scrambling to get everything done before this afternoon's deadline. And I made it! Three big cheers!!

After a very yummy dinner, a sort of French/Mediterranean thing with eggplant (which I love), Niek tucked our wonderful wee beasties into bed and took himself off for an evening of sports. Leaving me all alone ... with nothing to do but stitch! Boy am I happy. After weeks of not having the oomph to do much of anything, I am eager to stitch away the hours. Tonight I'm doing Brightneedle smalls ... oh bliss.

And because lately I seem unable to avoid jumping on all the good bandwagons, here is my Johari table if you want to add your two cents. Those who feel up to it can even leave me some constructive criticism on my Nohari table.
02 March 2006
I may never get to Nashville
... but I sure enjoyed Zwolle!

I was indulged by my wonderful husband this past Sunday when he sort of 'insisted' that we make the trek to Zwolle (nearly 1 1/2 hours in both directions) so I could go to the handwerkbeurs (a sort of crafter's fair with supplies, books, contacts and more) for a couple of hours. Our very family-friendly Peugot pulled up at the front door at 1:00 and we agreed I'd be outside waiting to be picked up at 3:00 sharp. I sprinted to the ticket line, paid and received my map of the exhibits, and took off for Annemiek's area first. (Between you and me, I can't seem to accurately read a map for love nor money. I wound up someplace that was definately not Annemiek's shop, but managed to quickly re-orient myself and get over to her booth.) She knew who I was as soon as I introduced myself and was such an easy-going person that I managed to avoid my usual first-meeting awkwardness. I got to see a lot of designs in person for the first time, and was sort of surprised by the diffference it makes to really see a chart IRL. Some designs that I was pretty sure I would want did not impress me at all, while two others that I've passed by several times really 'grabbed me' when I saw them. I walked away with 5 new charts and a lovely piece of antique grain Belfast linen. Nearby, I spotted a basket of Weeks Dye Works fibers going for 1.85 euro/skein and painstakingly narrowed my selection to six. Then a quick jog back to a shop offering quarter meter cuts of cotton quilting fabric at 4 for 25 euro. I got three for my quilt project and one with these cute little sheep that I just couldn't pass by. I asked the time and had only 15 minutes left! I felt like I was in one of those game shows where you only have 30 seconds to fill your shopping cart or something silly. I needed to find "blue string" for Max. He couldn't define what he wanted the string for, or what kind of string it should be, so this was not a simple task. I finally found him a length of blue leather for jewelry making that he was thrilled with. And just before the exit, I nearly ran into a shop that was selling copies (which I assume were authorized!) of Jan Hoffman designs. I have wanted De Anjelier (The Carnation) for awhile, and was very happy to snap up their last one. And a couple of his designs as note cards. I darted out the door with 8 euro remaining of my spending money, and about 3 minutes left on the clock. Hooray!

This was my first beurs, but you can bet it won't be my last! I hope to be better prepared for the next one, and to be able to spend a whole day with fellow cross stitch enthusiasists!

On the stitching front, I've mentioned that I've done pathetically little since the burglary. However, I did manage to finish up the first part of the mystery Quaker sampler and Mother Nature complied by giving me a bit of natural sunlight to snap a picture. I've used Vikki Clayton's French Artichoke silk on 32 ct Porcelain from Silkweaver. The colors are quite subtle, but it's really lovely IRL. This weekend is chockablock full of social outings, so I don't think I will be able to start part two until next week. I've looked at the chart, though, and I just can't wait to get going with it. What a great project this is! It's my first 'mystery' as well as my first large(ish) design for myself.

The snowy weather is continuing today. I tried to take a picture of the boys in front of the igloo they built yesterday, but our camera was re-experiencing the color problems it had last summer. Maybe I'll have better luck next time.

Wishing you all a wonderful day!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:18 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
01 March 2006
when it snows, it storms
We've woken up to a snowstorm! Looking out my front window, I can almost make believe we are in Maine. Not that any Mainer would ride a bike in this kind of weather - though it doesn't stop the hardy Dutch folk I see biking past. The kids are pretty excited and are hoping for some snowman-playtime later. I am, too!

My camera and 'puter are acquainted now, but there is a new (unfamiliar) photo editing program on this machine, so you will have to pardon me for the less-than-ideal pictures. Hopefully they will at least give an idea of the actual subject!

I'd mentioned receiving some wonderful gifts. Cathy sent me this gorgeous hardanger heart for Valentine's day. Max is convinced that's a huge diamond in the middle! :-) Carol, I actually have bought my first chart that includes hardanger, thanks to your inspiration!

Carol sent me Matter's Choice, by Carriage House Samplings, and the Lakeside Linens Antique Gold to stitch it on! I can't wait to start. Thanks a lot, Carol! (Because I can't seem to adjust colors with the new photo editor, I can't get a decent picture of this lovely linen. Sorry!)

Annemarie sent me another CHS - A Haunting Mermaid - and also Marion the Librarian from La-D-Da. Guess who knows my tastes! Thanks, Annemarie, these are bound to get my needle flashing again!

Von made me a beautiful card with Maine birds on it. I love it - and her card-making skills are super. She included two lovely skeins of Vikki Clayton silks and several freebie charts that I didn't have. Thanks, Von!

And the day of the burglary, Maria sent me a fat quarter of 28 ct Quaker cloth in a lovely springtime purple/pink (apple blossom?) and a huge stash of DMC! (Again, until I can figure out how to adjust the color/contrast, I can't get a decent picture.) I guess I'm still an honorary floss floozie - thanks, Maria!

The kids are playing with their Play-Doh farm set and not squabbling too much (well, except for Rowen). I'm wondering if I should put the last few stitches into the Quaker mystery sampler (part one) or if I should try again to get the right color for Max's dragon wings. Or maybe I should get my Quilts4Kids square done. I accomplished so little stitching during the past three weeks - and now there are several projects that I really want to start on. I'm doing Houses of Hawk Run Hollow as part of an informal SAL but I haven't started it yet. I got a few new designs on Sunday at the crafter's fair in Zwolle that I'm eager to begin (more on that in a later post). And I've begun thinking I should try to get my holiday stitching done before we go to the US this summer, so I can take it with me (though this is probably overly ambitious).