29 July 2006
let the good times roll
As I type this, the pond below is a brilliant, deep orange from the setting sun. It's awe-inspiring.

We continue to greatly enjoy our time with Sara and Ken. The kids have been swimming every day, to their utter delight. Sara & I went into Portland today and picked up a few goodies here & there. Tomorrow we will make the drive to ABC Stitch Therapy (which is 3 hours away instead of 2 - I goofed) to meet Carol & Patti. We are both very excited. The menfolk are doing great with the kids. When we came home today, I asked Max if he missed me while I was gone and he said, "Not really." LOL.

My Mom's surgery went well. She's having some discomfort, but that's to be expected. Thank you all so much for your well wishes and good thoughts.

Sadly, our time with Sara is nearing an end. She's one of those truly special friends of the heart.

Wishing you the best during these hot & steamy summer days!
26 July 2006
sun and sand
(Grr. Blogger just ate my posting!)

Here we are in south western Maine, just this side of the New Hampshire border, staying with my dear friend Sara. We are very close to where I spent my earlier childhood years (6 - 12) and the scenery looks so familiar and comforting.

We spent yesterday in Old Orchard Beach with my brother and his family, which was very fun. I can't say that OOB would be my choice of a holiday destination, but it is a fun place to catch up with loved ones. Today we went swimming in the Saco River with Sara and Ken, and the kids had so much fun. So did I - I felt like a kid again!

Tomorrow my mom is being operated on to have a steel plate and pins removed from her leg, so please think positive thoughts for her. She asked that we wait till she's recovered before we come see her, so she and the kids can enjoy each other without the strain of being temporarily physically handicapped. I understand her reasoning, but it's hard to stay away.

We are having such a wonderful time. The love and the beauty surrounding us are just impossible to put into words. It's amazing!
22 July 2006
Here we are: We are here
I've read Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" too many times, I fear. LOL!

So, I'm sitting at my Mom's desk writing this, looking out on an endless vista of green growing things. The kids are playing on the deck because it rained in the night and the grass is still too wet to play in. This is the beginning of our second full day here, and we're having a wonderful time!

The trip over went much better than we expected - in regard to Nicky and Rowen's behavior on the planes and during the layover - but I have to say that the stewardesses on Continental are the most unfriendly, child-disliking stewardesses that I have ever encountered in all the years I've been flying (years which number more than I really want to admit to). I don't intend to start anything by saying that, but I was (and am) just appalled at how rude these women were. Our kids stayed seated the whole time, didn't cry or fight or complain. They did put their window shades up and down and push the call button repeatedly - we asked them to please just ignore it if our call button went on, but that wasn't good enough. Oh well.

This afternoon, my brother and his family will arrive for a Down East lobster feast. I haven't seen them in two years, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Not much on the stitching front - I have stitched the "w" of a LHN design. LOL.

Wishing you all the best!
19 July 2006
leavin' on a jetplane
Wow, it's nearly time! We'll be flying overhead at this time tomorrow. I am just giddy with excitement. Soon I'll be seeing loved ones face-to-face that I've not seen in months (or years!!).

It's a hot one here today - the temps are expected to hit 36 degrees Celsius, which is like a million Farenheit. No, I can't be that lazy ... let me look it up ... it's 96.8 degrees Farenheit. That's pretty darn hot. Max cleaned out the family car and then helped me pack the suitcases (which only made it take twice as long - LOL). Niek took the younger kids to the office to double check that everything was running smoothly on his projects and also surprised everyone with ice cream. What a great way to go out! He didn't bring any back for Max & me, though!

No pretty pictures today, but thanks to Anna for sorting out my problem with yesterday's posting.

Wishing you all well! I will update as possible, and read your blogs when I can. Take care!!
18 July 2006
a visual feast
Lots of pictures to share today. This may be my last regular post in awhile - tomorrow I'll be busy packing, and on Thursday we fly out. Hooray!!

When I came home from a hectic day at work yesterday, I was totally floored to find a birthday package from AnneS! She sent me a lovely card, THREE pieces of linen, and a skein of "Olive Branch" from Crescent Colors that I just love. Thanks AnneS!!! And to keep the birthday spirit going, today I received the two new Blackbird Designs from Su: Flea Market Souvenir and Secret Garden! Wow! (Sorry there's no picture of Su's, but you can click on them to see a picture.) Wow, you guys, thanks so much!!!

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I have been stitching, though today I set it aside to do some serious cleaning. I'm making a little fob for Gaby, my new step-mother. It turns out that her birthday falls just before our visit, so I'm making Dearest Friend, by Brightneedle, for her. I'll fill it with lavender. I'm putting our names and the year on the back. I stitched this on a piece of hand-dyed Queen Anne's Lace Jobelan, 28 ct (though it honestly felt and looked more like 32 ct) using Dried Roses silk from The Thread Gatherer. The colors are not quite this hectic IRL but this picture is all I could come up with.

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It's been really hot here, which means - in our household anyway - very dirty children. Baths are pretty much a daily affair, and the kids love to all jump in the tub together, no matter how often we say it's too small for all three of them. I couldn't resist taking a picture of Max hamming it up.

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Tonight, Max's bunny heads over to Niek's sister and tomorrow our bird will go to Niek's parents. A kind neighbor is going to look after Spin and our house plants. As I mentioned, I've been cleaning today, scaring the daylights out of the spiders and other creepies who thought they could move in permanently. I cleared off my stash chest and took this quick picture of some of my cherished items. That weird, spiky thing is a hedgehog that Nicky made for us. The picture is of my mom and her sisters as childrenn. The tiny bowls are from Niek's sister. The miniature bunny is from Ash, the mailart is from Annemarie, and the "be good" ornie is from KarenV. The pillow is a gift I made for Niek, and the dolly is Rowen's Itty Bitty Pear Doll. In the back are a few of my special cross stitch books. I wish I had a beautiful spot to display more, but with dirty, little hands all over everything, I'm afraid that will have to wait. (There are also beautiful Christmas ornaments from Jenna and Dianne, but they're safely packed away; and stunning hardanger gifts from Von and Cathy, but the kids like those "too much".)

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Thank you for your wonderfully kind comments regarding "Sweet Child" - I loved stitching it and am in real Brightneedle mood now! I'm not sure when I'll be able to post, but I'll be thinking of all of you while I'm in Maine. And I'll be meeting some of you - Carol and Patti! Wish I could meet Dianne, too, but she's just a bit too far off. Take care everyone, and enjoy the upcoming dog days of August!

PS: Blogger refuses to accept even one picture today, so I've had to use my Photobucket account again. For some reason, this makes a mess of the template. Argh!
16 July 2006
it's done!
I've just finished Gaby and Jim's wedding gift - hooray! This is "Sweet Child" by Brightneedle, stitched on 32 ct Bo Peep Pink from Silkweaver using Vikki Clayton silks. I used several silks from one of her great grab bags, but the other colors used are Kelp (the lighter green), Brown Rust (the pink flowers), Brown Ale (the baskets), and Walnut (the wording). I am in love with the Walnut, which is so much softer and warmer stitched up than it looks in the skein. I've decided to wait until we get to Maine to have it framed, to avoid problems from any misfortunate handling of my suitcases.

It's very hot today, but the kids have played outside nearly all day. Niek's been off visiting his best friend, who has a birthday today. I've been thinking of all the places I want to go to when we get to Maine while I've been stitching. I can't wait to get there!!

I hope this finds you all having a wonderful weekend!
13 July 2006
all shapes & sizes
I'm still learning how different my kids are from each other. (Parenting is such a humbling job - you never actually learn it all, and it's all on-the-job training.) It's incredible that they're even related. When Max was younger, he needed an incredible amount of structure and sameness in his routine or he'd become very unhappy and difficult. So for years, whenever we've had holiday time, I've tried to keep everything the same and he's been quite happy. Rowen and Nicky, naturally, have turned out to be totally the opposite. Variety, and more of it, are their demands! So I've been trying to balance Max's need for routine with their need for stimulation. I haven't hit the magic combination yet, but I think I'm getting closer.

Yesterday we spent the better part of the day with Ash and her two boys and that was terrific! I tried to get pics of all the kids, but just as I was snapping one of the boys playing in the sand, a very tall boy walked by and blocked Seb. However, here's what I got. My favorite is the one of Nicky and Joe slurping their apple juice.

For today's outing, we visited with Niek's mom, who has just returned from a vacation touring the Baltic States. Now that's a dream vacation, in my opinion, and by the time she'd described what they'd seen & done, I was more than halfway ready to jump in the car and head north! The kids, as always, had a great time visiting with their Oma, and protested more than a little bit when it was time to head home again. (Blogger has had its fill of photos, so I'm switching to Photobucket again.)

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With all this traveling, I've not had as much time for stitching as I might like, but I have made a bit of progress with my Brightneedle project. I love the colors so far, and the pattern is a pleasure to stitch (as are all the Brightneedle patterns I've done so far).

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And to keep me geared up to finish my current projects, Ash surprised me with the very, very generous gift of these patterns while I was at her home yesterday. Ash, thanks so much! I'll enjoy these tremendously!

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And finally, the countdown to Maine is in high gear now: We fly out one week from TODAY!!!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:48 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 4 comments
12 July 2006
humble pie
Niek didn't go to chess last night, which meant I had to admit that the cross stitch gift I was making for a gift wasn't getting anywhere because I like the design so much that I wanted to keep it for myself ... I was sabotaging my efforts to have it done on time, so I wouldn't have to give it away. Niek almost wet himself laughing, and teased me mercilessly till bedtime. In my own defense, I did start a new gift - which I really will give away! - and made a decent start on it last night. This is Sweet Child, by Brightneedle, done on 32 count Bo-Peep Pink from Silkweaver using all Vikki Clayton silks.

Here's the floss toss, chart, and the frame I will use when it's finished.

And here is the one I'm keeping. You know I'm pretty crazy about birds, and I've recently become addicted to Danish designers. This is from the 1986 Danish Handwork Calender (designer Edith Hansen), the month of August. The idea is to have one block per season - this is the summer block. I've picked out fall, spring, and winter, too... Since it is now for myself you may have to wait awhile for more progress pics. I'm notoriously slow at finishing my own stuff.

Yesterday was a warm one. The kids and I walked to the kinderboerderij, which I guess is equivalent to a petting zoo (with bunnies, chickens, goats, sheep, etc.), where they got dirty and had fun. After we returned, we went through a whole bag of water balloons. Those were a huge success, as you can see! (Blogger refuses to upload any more pics, so I've switched over to Photobucket.)

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Continuing the summer fun, we are heading over to Ash's in just a little while to play with Seb and Joe. I hope I remember to bring my camera....
posted by mainely stitching at 11:10 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
11 July 2006
manual labor
cross stitcher at work!

Yesterday, on the spur of the moment, I decided to paint the house. Yes, occassionally I can be impulsive. Max is now on summer on vacation, so he was my assistant. Nicky & Rowen were at daycare because Monday is normally an office day for me. We took all the pictures down and did a sort of hasty cleaning to prepare our work area. Here's what it looked like before we opened the paint, as you come in the front door and head up the stairs.

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After a pretty full day of painting (and a couple of trips back to the hardware store for more paint) here are the results of our labor, following the same route.

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I really like the green. Sadly, I didn't do a perfect job using the decorative roller (to add the green vine/flower to the hallway wall) but I think the family pictures that usually hang there will cover up the few blotches I made. Naturally, the first thing Niek noticed were the imperfections, which took the wind out of my sails. Still, it looks nice & fresh. I plan to continue with the green accent around the bedroom doors upstairs, and the attic stairs (which are not carpeted).

What do you think?
posted by mainely stitching at 10:19 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
09 July 2006
wanna come play at my house?
Last September, I invited a bunch of cross stitchers to come over to my house for the day ... and I'd really like to do that again this September.

Who would like to come? And do you have any ideas of things you'd like to do? Last year, it was very informal - just a chance to meet cyberfriends IRL.

(Picture lifted from here. Cool, isn't it?)
posted by mainely stitching at 10:46 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
haloscan works again!
Thanks very much to Anna and Niek, who spent far too much time working out what the problem was in displaying my Haloscan comments. The old template still shows up for those comments, but that's okay. At least people without Blogger accounts can comment again!

Thank you, Anna and Niek!!!!
posted by mainely stitching at 12:13 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
08 July 2006
it's actually pretty accurate
I stole this over on Lena-lou's blog, and for once one of these tests seems to describe me pretty accurately (though I guess they could leave out the "a bit" in front of stubborn!).

Your Dosha is Pitta

You have a quick mind, a gift for persuasion, and a sharp sense of humor.
You have both the drive and people skills to be a very successful leader.
Argumentative and a bit stubborn, you have been known to be a little too set in your ways.
But while you may be biased toward your own point of view, you are always honest, fair, and ethical.

With friends: You are outgoing and open to anyone who might want to talk to you

In love: You are picky but passionate

To achieve more balance: Be less judgmental of those around you, and take cool walks in the moonlight.
What's Your Dosha?

Today has been one of those strange days due to being overtired. The kids didn't sleep well at all, and I stayed up too late indulging in the British Detective night on TV (naughty Anneke for mentioning that in her blog!). I haven't really accomplished anything, though I did go to yoga and did pretty well. I finished the Ruth Rendell (The Babes in the Woods) mystery I borrowed from the library yesterday. I also ordered some threads from Stitching Bits and Bobs and had them shipped to my Mom to take advantage of the sale price and the lower shipping charges and the low value of the dollar against the euro. I couldn't resist! LOL. Oh, anyone who hasn't already ordered The Village of Hawk Run Hollow, I found it over at All Stitched Up for only $14.40.

A last call to anyone around here who would like me be on the lookout for any cross stitching supplies while I'm in the US. So far, you've been too polite and said 'no' but that's just silly. I can't guarantee I'll find what you want, but I'm certainly happy to look!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:30 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
07 July 2006
mail for the mailman?
I think my mailman deserves a thank-you card for today's postal delivery. I received the confirmation for my course (hooray!), a book of herbal charts from an eBay win, and this lovely magnetic bookmark from Dianne!

Today was a day filled with 1001 different things. It was Max's last day of school, and a half-day at that, so in the morning I ran around trying to find a suitable end-of-year gift for his teacher (no chance to cross stitch a gift for her this year), getting my hair cut, finding the mini cassettes required by my mini Sony recorder, etcetera, etcetera. After Max came home and left again, to go to his biological father's, I went to work. And after work there were more errands. It was a very interesting day, but I'm pretty tired tonight. Thankfully, the weather is cooler and we will hopefully have a solid night's sleep.

Mom, my haircut looks pretty good, but it's just a shock how dark my hair has become! I've gone from blonde to light-auburn-brown, to nearly black!

Karen, I did manage to post Country! Hooray!

Dianne, thank you so much for your thoughtful gift. As I said in my earlier email, it's nearly too pretty to use!

Carol and Patti, we'll be meeting in about 2 weeks' time! WOW!

Wishing you all a joy-filled weekend!

PS: I changed my template slightly because I wasn't quite comfortable with my "stolen" picture, so this is the lavender that grows in front of our house.
06 July 2006
thanks, Dianne!
Dianne surprised me with this lovely collage that she made from blog postings I've done over the months. It's lovely, Dianne - thanks so much!!!

Today I called the school that I hope to attend in September - I hadn't heard anything from them since sending in my application nearly two weeks ago. The man I spoke with acknowledged they were behind in their paperwork, but my application had been received and it didn't seem there would be any reason why I wouldn't be accepted. So, if all goes well, in three years' time I will be a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. It will require some changes in our family life, but Niek assures me he is up to caring for Nicky and Rowen for a full day every other Saturday, and Max's biological father is also willing to adjust his visitation schedule to coincide with the classes. Phew!

Our trip to Maine is getting closer & closer. Hooray! We are all so excited. Nicky said he was going to ride his bike to America after breakfast today. Does it get any cuter?? I will be able to update my blog from my Mom's house, though obviously on a very irregular basis.

I did a little more work on Jim's gift today, but it's just too hot to stitch. My hands feel sweaty, and that's just so unappealing!

Thanks to everyone for your great comments on my new look. I'm very happy with it. Today I managed to get pictures in my sidebar, which was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Still have to work on the Haloscan thing, but I'm sure it will turn out to be something simple in the end.

Take care, all!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:12 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 8 comments
05 July 2006
new faces
Yes, I rock! Ahem, I mean to say, I managed to pull my fat out of the fire. This is pretty much how I intended my blog to look when I started monkeying about last night and made a dog's dinner of it (how's that for a bunch of mixed metaphors?).

I wanted a blog header with flowers - herbs, to be more precise - and I wanted a cooler/fresher color because it's so bloody hot here that I can barely breathe. But I made such a mess of things last night! Then this morning I put up a Blogger template, just to have something there, but I really wanted ... well, what I wanted. LOL! My mom raised a stubborn child.

Thanks to Patti, who has a gorgeous new look, I wandered over to the site she credited and I liked the layout of a particular template, but not the colors or the picture. So, I copied the template and started experimenting. No way I could learn all about HTML in one day with four kids here, but I'm not afraid of trial & error! So I owe credit for the backbone to Cristina Calabrese. I owe credit to Mandarin Design for their free tips and their easily-readable layout (which allowed me to scan with one eye and watch the kids with the other). The background is from another free site that you really should check out, Citrus Moon. Finally, I stole the herbal picture without permission (so please don't tell on me!)from a gardening site.

Obviously, I haven't done much more than glance at my stitching in passing. But keeping with the theme of new faces, here is young Sven with my two wee beasties. They had a great day together!

PS: I still haven't figured out how to get my HaloScan comments back on. But I will!

It was hot last night and my blog colors just looked so warm - too warm, I decided. I want some blue. And some herbs instead of the loon. So I backed up the template done by the wizards at the now-defunct Gemmak Designs and started fooling around. I found some colors I really liked, saved the new template over the old one, and tried it on for size. Didn't like it! Well, no worry, I had made a backup of the old one ... or so I'd thought!! For some reason (some mistake on my part, I should say!) I had not saved the entire template and I could only put my background up - no posts, no comments, nothing. And whenever I tried to tweak the new template, even for something as simple as the font, the whole thing went wonky and wouldn't work. I considered seriously freaking out, but it was too hot and too late at night. Wisely, I decided to go to bed instead and deal with it this morning.

So this morning I checked my email to see if Jane of the sadly-missed Gemmak Designs had responded to my SOS. When she hadn't, I made one last attempt to salvage my well-intended, but sadly failed customized template and when that didn't work, I decided the only solution for now was to take an off-the-shelf Blogger template. I've managed to get my Blogroll back but I still haven't managed to insert my Haloscan comments HTML in the right place so that it works.

It's obviously time to learn HTML for real instead of just messing around! But today we have a visitor for the day - little Sven has come to play today since his mom has a special training course for the day. With three little ones (Sven is 9 months old but can crawl and stand up) to watch, it's not a day for sitting behind the computer!
04 July 2006
independence day!

Happy Independence Day to all Americans, and everyone else, too! Wishing you a day that is independent of strife, illness or unhappiness; a day rich in love, joy, and good health! Wishing us all a future full of peace.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:02 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 4 comments
02 July 2006
a day at the beach

Actually, it was only an hour or two in the late afternoon, but it was fun! The weather here has made another erratic zig (or zag) and the past couple of days have been swelteringly hot & humid. The kids played remarkably well in the backyard till mid-afternoon, at which point they'd done everything at least 6 times and were gettingh bored and bicker-y. So we went to the beach at a nearby lake and let them work it off. LOL. They had so much fun. Keeping in the holiday mood, we took them out to eat at McDonalds. Needless to say, they were delighted and are probably now dreaming about it all.

I hope you enjoyed a happy weekend and, for the US stitchers among us, I hope you're looking forward to a safe & fun Fourth of July. (Wish I could join you!)
posted by mainely stitching at 10:14 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments