31 May 2006
happy birthday hooray!
As the old saying goes: If you have health, you have everything. So my biggest birthday gift came a day early - the doctor said that all my levels (except iron) are back within the normal range and I can try to get on with life. Hip, hip, hooray!! Thank you friends, so much, for your support!

Making much prettier pictures, however, are the BEAUTIFUL gifts I received in the mail from Carol and Isabelle. You guys are just too good to me!!!

Carol sent me the complete kit for Baby Bug Ball, the truly adorable Shepherd's Bush project, with a sweet card telling me that it reminded her of my three wee beasties. This is already very high on the "must do" list, Carol, and if I weren't starting A Pennsylvania-German Stocking next, I would start Baby Bug Ball. Thank you so much!!

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And Isabelle made me one of her lovely bags, which she knows I admire tremendously. Not only do I get to enjoy the bag, I finally get to see how they're made so I can make some of my own. I wanted to make a bag like this for Mary Kirby - Home, but I just didn't know how to do it. Inside the bag were two skeins of beautiful overdyed floss from a French supplier. I'm just itching to try this out! Thank you for your lovely card as well, Isabelle. Your kind comments give me a goal to try to live up to!

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Tomorrow is the day that my personal calendar actually turns the page. We'll take Max's best friend out to eat at a restaurant that we (as a family) really like. It might not be romantic, but it will be fun - and seeing my kids happy is just the best. I don't know what else Niek has planned. Usually he goes all-out on my birthday, but health uncertainties have made it very hard to plan anything. Just having him and the kids around me will be more than gift enough!

I should have some stash photos to share soon, and I'm also this close to having Annemarie's neighborhood done. I figured out how to make French/Colonial knots today! So the lupins that I "planted" in her neighborhood last night really look great now.
30 May 2006
pretty posies

I haven't been stitching as much as I'd like to, but at least I don't have the feeling that I'm stitching in slow motion anymore. I've finished up two small quilt squares that I'll send to Friends To Seniors for 'any quilt' requests. Normally, I'd send them to OECS, but it's been months (and months) since the database was updated and I'm just totally unclear on what's going on. Oh well, good time to try something new. I like the Two Carnations design - it's an oldie from Prairie Schooler - and I'll do it again for another project. The other carnation is lifted from Another Carnation Sampler by Elizabeth's Gardens. I love the full design and will get to stitching it one of these days! And today I worked on Annemarie's neighborhood for a couple of hours. There are three more sheep, half a lupin, a pond, and the outline of a hill. I'm worried I've put in too much green, which I know is not Annemarie's favorite color. I was worried that I'd stuffed the block too full, but Annemarie has assured me that's no worry.

I have not been stitching as much as I'd like - or doing much else that I'd like to do - because the miscarriage has caused "rare" complications. I spent yesterday at the hospital and then in bed, and will have to go back tomorrow. The whole thing has become a sort of unending nightmare. But the time I do manage to grab for stitching helps keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.
posted by mainely stitching at 11:07 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
27 May 2006
decisions, decisions
Thank you one & all for your suggestions regarding Jim and Gaby's wedding gift! Ultimately, the final vote was theirs, and they chose for The Pennsylvania-German Stocking, by Carriage House Samplings. It might interest you to know, that overall you also chose this design! The stocking came out first, with Green Tree lagging back for a pretty far second place. There were only one or two votes for the mini band sampler. Thank you everyone! Now to await my silk order from Vicki Clayton - luckily, she's always very fast with shipping so I expect the silks will arrive by the end of next week.

Tonight I've finally finished Winnie the Pooh, for troostquilts (a Dutch charity quilt group headed up by Judith). It actually only took me a few days to do, but it felt longer. LOL. Winnie came out pretty cute, and I'm hoping he'll make a sick little girl smile every time she sees him.

And now? Max has asked that I please finish up his bunny (March Hare by Blackbird Designs), but I'd also like to finish Annemarie's neighborhood up and send it on to Rachael. I've got a hill left to put in ... borrowed from a design from The Workbasket. I was worried I'd over-filled Annemarie's block, but she assures me that I haven't. Phew! I've had such a great time working on it.

Tonight, Niek & I are nestled in front of the TV, playing chess (him) and cross stitching (me). It's been raining for days now, but on an evening like this, it feels very cozy. I wish all those who have a long weekend plenty of rest & relaxation. And for the rest of us, simply a pleasurable weekend filled with love & laughter.
24 May 2006
i've been so naughty

I'd been really, really good about not buying any cross stitching supplies for quite awhile now. Honest! It actually wasn't hard to do, as most of the new charts out there just don't do anything for me. But then something happened to my steel resolve. First, Stitching Bits & Bobs had a sale and I really do need a bigger Q-Snap for my bigger projects. SBB charges a lot extra to mail a large Q-Snap, so I figured I'd also order a small one, too, so I no longer have to stitch ornaments out-of-hand. And there was the new La-D-Da chart (Love is Little) that I've been drooling over. But it was a reasonable order, really! Then the other day I stumbled across Celtic Stitchery, and they had that something different that I was looking for. Unfortunately, most of their charts are sold as kits with aida cloth, but I figure I can use the aida for my charity stitching. They have some really fun stuff, and Clare (the owner) is really super at answering questions and such. And then tonight I decided that the band sampler I was thinking to make for Jim's wedding is seriously overly ambitious, so I went through my charts and narrowed it to (click on design to see picture):

CHS/Pennsylvania-German Stocking (we are descended from the Pennsylvania Dutch, and Gaby is German)
Hester's Needle/Miniature Band Sampler
CHS/Green Tree

And of course Vikki has gorgeous silk conversions available for all three of these designs, which meant ordering for all three.... Amazingly, it is actually cheaper to order her silks than to purchase the DMC here! That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!

Anyway, as I brush the dust off and nurse the bruises from falling off the wagon with a mighty big bump, I have to ask your opinion. Which of the three designs will make the best wedding gift for my father and new step-mother?
21 May 2006
friends and fun
Easing my way back into socializing ... or bursting back into a social life with a big bang. We went to visit friends of Niek's on Saturday and it was fun. They've got a great little girl who's just a bit younger than Rowen and the kids all got along wonderfully. Mainly because little Emma didn't mind my wild beasties taking over all her toys and her living room and trying to boss her around. She was up to the challenge! Being in a mentally-impaired mood, I forgot to bring my camera, so you'll have to take my word that everyone had fun.

And today, Ash came over for a visit with Brad, Seb, and Joe. Ash is great! I'm so glad we finally met, after several "almosts" over the past 6 months or so, and I hope we'll get together with some regularity now. Brad is really funny and was also a good sport about Spin the Cat shedding all over him. Seb is a smart, funny kid who whipped my boys right into shape and had everyone playing happily in no time. Joe was happy playing with the cars and garage and making sure no cookies or cake were left over. Naturally, I forgot to take any pictures while they were here, but here are pics of the adorable over-one bunny ornament that Ash made us and the chart with fibers that she gave me. Thanks, Ash!!

And to end, here's something pretty I picked up from Bert's blog. If you'd like to give it a try, go here.

I am from forests, from Buster Browns and Howard Johnsons.
I am from the rural, coastal, tangy-salt-smelling coast.
I am from the fir trees, blueberry blossoms, & rocky beaches; the fiddleheads, roadside lupins & gravel pits.
I am from "boys will be boys" and "a job worth doing is worth doing well", from sports-minded brothers and older step-sisters and the Davises.
I am from the ignore-it-if-its-unpleasant and good-girls-don't-do-that.
From "don't sit on a public toilet" and "don't spit".
I am from the Protestant work ethic, even if we don't go to church.
I'm from the west coast, the southwest desert, and the Maine coast, cheddar cheese dinner packs, and Sno-Ball treats.
From the grandfathers who ran off to join the circus, who never spoke without reason, and who always made me smile; the grandmothers who could heal all hurts from the safety of their kitchens; and the places I never really fit into.
I am from attics and unpacked boxes, the yellowing pages forgotten in a move, the memories remembered only just before sleep takes us.
19 May 2006
all the news that's fit to print
Wow, what a jam-packed day! I'll spare you the boring story of the work-related part of my day and just jump to the good stuff. LOL! The mailman brought me gifts from Von today, the last of our first Gemini Gift Exchange. What fun! Shall we do it again next year, ladies? I really enjoyed it!

Of course, I had to open the presents right away because I'm just the worst waiter! Von, you were as good as Santa Claus! Von sent a chart that I don't have from one of my favorite designers, some lovely shell buttons, a teeny pair of scissors for my on-the-go stitching, some bright picture post cards of her part of the world, and the loveliest hardanger pretty I've ever seen. Thank you, Von!

Last night I finally finished my slow-motion quilt square for Quilts4Kids. The picture isn't very good - it's overcast today - but the colors really do pop out on this one. I hope Samantha will enjoy it when her quilt is completed.

We also received our baby's sampler back from the framer. Though he did not use spacers, as I specifically & pointedly requested, we are happy with the framing. We chose a special glass to cut down on sun damage (the Natural Dye Studio silks are not colorfast) and the dappled effect of the frame suits the dappled linen perfectly. I've never been very good at photographing framed pieces, so you'll just have to trust me when I say this looks much better IRL.

Tonight is the final night of the Avondvierdaagse, the march that Max has been participating in. Traditionally, the kids are gifted with candy and flowers at the ceremony where they also recieve their medallions. Last year we skipped the candy, since we're pretty low-tolerance on sweets, but Max felt left out so this year I put my scruples aside and picked up two bags of candy that we can hand out to him and to his friends who've marched with him every night. He's very excited!

And today is officially our wedding anniversary. Traditionally, we celebrate our anniversary on the occassion of our first date, but I picked Niek up a new leather wallet. He needs it! I also spared him my annual attempt at writing a poem and settled for a card. He won't have to spend ages trying to figure out what I'm trying to say. LOL.

This weekend will be busy for us - we are going to visit friends on Saturday who are expecting their second child "any day now". Niek's worried about me having a bad reaction to being with a pregnant lady, but I'm sure it will be okay. I miss my baby, I don't begrudge other women theirs. And on Sunday, Ash is driving over with her sons and husband. I'm really looking forward to meeting her - she's become a good friend over the trials and tribulations of the past months - and I can't wait to meet her boys after hearing all about them. I suspect they will get along very well with our three wee beasties.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!!
17 May 2006
pretty pictures

Max has completed his second evening of the march - Niek tried to get a picture of him last night with his best friend "on the move" and it came out a little blurry but you can see what a great time he's having!

Today, the florist came by with literally an armful of flowers, to my utter amazement. My Mom ordered flowers for me on Mother's Day but they weren't delivered on time. To make up for the delay, the florist included an extra bouquet. The ones from my Mom are loaded with lilacs (my absolute favorite) and the most gorgeous white roses. I just love them!! Those from the florist are also beautiful - a bright orange assortment. Together, the purple flowers and the orange look absolutely amazing with our bright yellow wall! You can't help but feel good looking at them. And the smell! I wish it were possible to share with you! I'll leave you with a few pictures, which really are worth a thousand words. Thank you so much, Momsie, for making me feel special.

color for thought
I followed the link from Ash's blog to take this test, and although I would like to disagree with the results (me? egocentric?), I suspect that those who know me best (or at my worst, I should say!) would probably agree with the test result.

ColorQuiz.comI took the free ColorQuiz.com personality test!

"Seeks freedom from problems and a secure state of ..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

I should be stitching, but I'm surfing for the perfect birthday gift for my mom's upcoming birthday. I'm so easily distracted! LOL
posted by mainely stitching at 11:23 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
16 May 2006
this, that, and the evening-four-day-march
Today is the kickoff for the Avondvierdaagse, or evenings' four day march (click here for pictures). This will be Max's third year of participation, and we're very proud of him. The kids, age 4 to 12, march an average of 5 km per evening for four evenings - a different route through & around the city each evening - and on the final evening there is an awards ceremony with lots of candy, flowers, and gifts. Max's best friend, Niek, will take part for the first time this year, so Max is especially excited. Unfortunately, our glorious weather has turned off cold, windy, and wet. The kids will march no matter the weather, so Max asked me to make sure his raincoat was handy. Next year, to my amazement, Nicky will be old enough to join in - and knowing our Nicky, I'm sure he'll want to try!

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I've been slowly stitching away at this flowers & bee design for Quilts4Kids. I don't know why my stitching is going so slowly, but I can't seem to pick up the pace. Fortunately the square isn't due for ages yet; I just wanted to get it done ahead of time. I somehow managed to sign up for three quilt squares with the same deadline. Oops.
*Edited: The design is a freebie that you can download here.

Yesterday I went back to work for the first time and it was more difficult than I thought it had would be. I don't know what's more difficult - reacting to the people who don't know why I've been out of circulation for a couple of weeks (and assume I've just been enjoying the good weather) or accepting the condolences from the people who do know (which usually has me in tears or running out of the room). Last week I started taking anti-depressants; I'd reached a point where I just wasn't able to function very effectively and that wasn't any good for anyone. They help, though I'm ever of a mixed mind when it comes to medications.

Niek did take care that we had a very nice Mother's Day. He took over breakfast duties so I could sleep in - a very, very rare treat! - and even baked two beautiful homemade breads. I snapped a picture of one, but the kids had already broken into the other one (topped with melted brown sugar) before I could get the camera out.

Spin and I wish you and yours a beautiful day!

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13 May 2006
the keukenhof and other tidbits
A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Keukenhof with Nicky and Rowen. It was Niek's first time - a typical Dutchman, he's never been before because it's such a touristy spot. He was amazed at how beautiful it is. Unfortunately, it was really cold the day we went and we were all shivering in our winter coats. Still & all, it was fun. This time, Niek was the family photographer, and I think he did a great job.

That same weekend, Rowen finally got her big-girl's bed. When I took her to Ikea to shop for it, she insisted she was not getting a bed, but when we walked by the showroom model for this one, she climbed right in, pulled the blankets up, and announced to all the shoppers passing by, "This is my bed!" Although Nicky was allowed to test it the first night we set it up, now Rowen won't allow anyone to sit on her bed except for her biggest brother, Max. Max can do anything, as far as Rowen's concerned!

During all these goings-on, Max was in England with his biological father and grandparents, where he had a wonderful time searching for fossils, stones, and ancient coins. Here's a great picture of him in a traditional red English phone booth.

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Stitching-wise, I've temporarily set Annemarie's neighborhood block aside to work on a Quilts4Kids square that's coming along nicely. I seem to be stitching in slow motion lately, but I guess that's okay as long as I begin everything far enough in advance.

Wishing you all a happy weekend!
09 May 2006
tinkering around
I could claim that Maria started it by asking if I'd begun a wedding sampler for Jim and Gaby, but that wouldn't really be honest. I'm a tinkerer at heart. One of the things I enjoy most about cross stitching is changing the designs around. I must be a designer's nightmare! My first cross stitch projects were elements taken from different designs I found in a great old folklore book that I 'liberated' from Sara's basement. I loved the feeling of creating my own designs, even though I wasn't doing anything more glorified than rearranging existing designs. A frustrated designer without artistic talent - kind of like someone who wants to be a novelist but winds up as a technical writer. Oops, that really did happen.

And Maria, I haven't actually put needle to linen yet, but here's my floss toss. This is 32 ct Vintage Belfast linen Autumn Blush. I spent a fair amount of time yesterday counting out spaces for a band sampler of my own devising with some verse added in. If all goes to plan, it will measure 210 by 370. You'll just have to wait for progress pics!

My favorite projects are the ones that I make up as a go along. All the kids' birth samplers are made up using bits and pieces of other designs and lots of imagination. The baby's sampler is also made up, using antique samplers for inspiration. My block on Annemarie's round robin contains elements from Carriage House Samplings, The Goode Huswife, Brightneedle, Prairie Moon, Elegant Designs and Shepherd's Bush (and I'm not done yet!).

We have had some amazing weather, and Rowen is finally able to enjoy her summer dresses. I can't smock, like Von and Connie can, but my Mom sent Rowen this utterly adorable dress and today our little girl feels like quite the princess.

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During the past days, wehave had some ups and downs, to put it delicately, but the support of our friends and family has brought an incredible amount of comfort into our lives. It is in times like this that you really understand how crucial love and support are to our lives and well-being. The baby's prayer should be ready to pick up from the framer next week, and we are looking forward to hanging it in the living room. I'm thinking of (re)framing all the kids' birth samplers and hanging them together.

I hope this day finds you doing something that makes you smile.
posted by mainely stitching at 12:49 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
08 May 2006
three cheers for a new beginning!
On a joyous note, I'd like to proudly announce the wedding of my father with a lovely lady (whom I have yet to meet). Here is a beautiful picture of the bride and groom, together with my very handsome brother and his lovely family.

As I often point out to Max, we're lucky because we have two fathers. My parents divorced when I was young, but I had the wonderfully good fortune of getting my Daddy when Mom later remarried. I have two amazing fathers who support and encourage me in very different, but very vital, ways. Best of all, they get along with each other so I don't have to feel "guilty" about loving both of them right to bits.

Jim, my biological father, is largely the source of my more artistic leanings, and probably the source of my wanderlust. We're both fairly solitary creatures who have a hard time making new friends but would go to the ends of the earth for the friends we have. Jim has always encouraged me to dream, and to believe in my dreams. Max is convinced he can literally climb mountains with his Grandpa Jim.

Gaby, my new stepmother, is by all accounts a kind and wonderful woman who I'll come to treasure the moment I meet her. Gaby, I treasure you already for bringing joy and companionship to Jim's life! I can't wait to meet you this summer!

Three big cheers for the happy new couple!
05 May 2006
some gifts aren't meant to be kept
Hi everyone. I'm sorry that my last post alarmed some people - my apologies; that was never the intention. I meant only to excuse myself for awhile and to offer some explanation for future somber moods. Thank you to the many friends who have left messages - your support and love have helped ease the pain of the last days.

I'm not really sure where to begin or what to say, so please overlook my clumsiness.

We were expecting a baby. It was the most unexpected news, and after the initial shock, also the most welcome news. There were mistakes made at the hospital that made us hesitant to tell anyone, but a couple of weeks ago, things seemed to be clarified and we were looking forward to sharing our happy news with everyone. We had only one last ultrasound to go through to check if the baby was likely to have Down's Syndrome, and that was scheduled for Monday. Everything else was going perfectly. But when we saw the baby on the monitor Monday morning, it was obvious that the little heart had stopped beating.

No one knows what happened, or why. It's been an extraordinary week. I had no idea that people could cry so much, or feel so much pain. We are doing our best to hold to the happy memories - and despite how briefly we were able to cherish this baby, there are a lot of positives to hold on to. How can one tiny creature have such a tremendous impact in so short a time? We were able to feel the baby kicking, which is a miracle we treasure, and we saw him or her very active and apparently healthy during an earlier ultrasound. There are memories of joy mixed in with the sadness.

I've been working on a gift for the baby during the past couple of days. The intangibility of the loss has bothered me terribly, so I hoped that creating something that we could see and feel might help build some sense of closure. Keeping my hands busy has allowed my mind to start accepting the loss, too.

I don't know what else to say at this point. Thank you for being there for us.

01 May 2006
Niek and I have had a painful loss today and it may be awhile before I'm back to blogging, or much of anything else.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear

e.e. cummings