30 September 2006
little time for stitching, but ...
Whew, it's been a busy few days. Work on Friday was like a race - how much could I cram into one day at the office? Amazingly enough, I crammed it all in ... something like 3 days' worth of work. I was pretty wiped out when I got home, though, and by the time the kids were tucked up in bed, my brain had shut down and I couldn't do any stitching. I did, however, finish up Anita Shreve's A Wedding In December. Not one of her best novels, in my opinion, but I enjoyed it.

Today, of course, was given over to school. Wow, what a lot there is to learn! I thought I'd done quite a decent job preparing for class but I obviously need to re-read everything again. But it's an exciting challenge, not an overwhelming one. (So far!) After I returned from school, we dashed over to catch the end of our neighbor's 25th anniversary party. Very fun.

And as soon as we got home, I put the last stitches in my cute little grasshopper so I can post that off on Monday. Isn't he a sweetie?

I hope that you are enjoying a very happy weekend!

Oh, before I forget, Spin received his scratches from one of the neighborhood cats that he was bossing around. He's self-appointed Feline Emperor of the neighborhood! He's laying beside me, purring, as I type this. Without an aida blanket or mattress. LOL!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:38 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
28 September 2006
pictures! and good intentions
I had intended to update my blog last night, but Niek was busy with the computer till after midnight (by which time I was snoring in bed) so here I am now - with lots of pictures!

First of all, I'm so glad that Becky likes her scissors pocket and fob! As soon as I saw the design on Meri's site (pointed out to me by Maria S. - thanks!), I knew I'd found the right gift to remind Becky of how much she's appreciated. This was my first scissors pocket, but not my last! Becky, thanks again for the October JCS magazine and for all the wonderful things you do to make our stitching community an even more special place!

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Secondly, although I am on a stash diet, I did have some outstanding orders that I'm waiting for. Here's what I ordered from Wyndham Needleworks, all from their sales pages. I've really gotten to like Chessie & Me - another example of how my tastes have changed over the past year or two.

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Thirdly, I'm making slow but steady progress on the Harley quilt square for Quilts4Kids, but I also started another square for a Dutch-based quilt charity. It's a new quilt request with urgency status, so they need the squares right away. I'm doing the grasshopper from Garden Beasties by Prairie Schooler.

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This afternoon I'll be heading toward the Big City (aka Amsterdam) too meet Rachael for the first time. I'm going via Ash's house so we can go in together. Hopefully some of the chocolate chip cookies I baked yesterday will be left for me to share with her wonderful boys (and Brad, of course, who - like my DH - has kindly taken over tonight's bedtime rituals for the kids). Though Rachael and I have spoken frequently on the phone, we've never met IRL and I'm looking forward to it. I'll also meet her friend Cheryl, who is kind enough to share Rachael with other friends.

On a tiny sour note, I am still awaiting my "last" SBB order which includes my JCS ornaments issue. I want to start stitching those Christmas ornies! LOL. Thanks to Becky and Maria S. I have had a preview of the ornaments, but I'm impatient to have the magazine in my hot little hands. Other than eBay purchase that I'll pick up in person from Conny, a wonderful stitcher and seller over near Delft, that's the end of my incoming stash for the foreseeable future. Though I admit to perusing the many ONS sites, it really is something of a relief to be "forbidden" from purchasing anything. The only thing that has seriously tempted me is the Quaker Stamps charts. You can learn more about them at the Yahoo group if you're interested.

Though I can no longer claim autumn as my favorite season, I do love the way the change in weather affects our Spin. In the spring & summer we scarecely see him, but as soon as the days begin to shorten, our wild feline turns into a total Love Kitty. Here he is, keeping me company while I stitched last night.

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26 September 2006
goofin' around
Ugh, I caught Rowen's cold-thingie and it's settled in my chest. Two nights without sleep - I keep waking myself up with coughing fits. I should go to bed now, but I'm half-afraid to try.

I haven't done too much stitching, and what little I have done is on the Harley logo, which I hope to pop in the mail to Linde at Quilts4Kids on Friday.

Big news for Thursday - I'm going to Amsterdam with Ash to meet Rachael and Cheryl. I don't actually have any idea who Cheryl is, but she must be a great person to share Rachael with everyone. LOL!

To prove that I've been goofing off shamelessly, here are a bunch of those silly and time-wasting blogthing quizzes that I've done. And now, I am off to bed. Cross your fingers for me!

In honor of Halloween, one of my favorite holidays:
You Are Scary

You even scare scary people sometimes!
How Scary Are You?

This one is funny because I don't "do" meat:
Meatball Pizza

Unusual and uncompromising.
You're usually the first to discover a new trend.
You appreciate a good meal and good company.
You're an interesting blend of traditional and modern.
What's Your Pizza Personality?

Always one of my favorite flavors, ever since childhood:
You Are a Green Apple Jelly Bean

Of all the flavors, you're the most complex and the most real. A little sweet, a little sour, and totally tangy. People can't describe you, but they love you!
What Flavor Jelly Bean Are You?

And as for this one, I could tell you stories ... but I won't:
You Are Lightning

Beautiful yet dangerous
People will stop and watch you when you appear
Even though you're capable of random violence

You are best known for: your power

Your dominant state: performing
What Type of Weather Are You?
posted by mainely stitching at 11:29 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
24 September 2006
it's been a productive weekend - hooray!
I studied most of the day on Saturday and am reasonably caught up with my coursework. The reading material is interesting, although the parts that are in Dutch had me reaching for my translation dictionary every few moments. It was actually kind of fun to study for a day - it's been a long, long time since my university days, but I was that girl who sat at the library table upstairs by the window for hours & hours on end.

To make up for a total lack of stitching on Saturday, I broke out the turbo needles today and have totally finish-finished my SBEBB smalls exchange. And let me tell you, I am so delighted with the end result that it will truly be a hardship to part with it. I've been going around grinning like an idiot since I cut the linen. Yep, I cut the linen, which means that I successfully excecuted the dreaded Nun's Stitch all the way around this little darling. Thank you so very much for your advice and support!! It was extra important that I become comfortable with this stitch because I'm making bookmarks (soon) to send to Cathy for her adult literacy efforts later this autumn. I'll be working out my stash, and I've decided not to get into lots of extra steps by making backings and stuff for the bookmarks. (It makes them too bulky anyway, in my opinion.) So I'll be doing the Nun Stitch in my sleep by the time it's over!

I can't really show you the completed exchange piece till my partner receives it, but I can't resist giving you a little teeny peek. And if you're in The Hague tomorrow, I just may take it to work with me to admire before I mail it off! (The letters are from a pattern in the October JCS that I just received from Becky - thank you, Becky!)

And, oh yeah, this is the first one off my 50, so only 49 projects to go! LOL!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:06 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
22 September 2006
I haven't fallen off the earth - I've just been embarassed about my slow progress on my Harley logo quilt square. It's kind of monotonous, with only 3 colors, and it's a lot of stitching (no blank canvas!). I've managed to get the middle section done, and here it is:

Max and I paid our Friday afternoon visit to the library today, and while wandering the stacks, I was delighted to discover Merklappen uit de lage landen (Samplers from the Lowlands) by Joke Visser. Though I am a slow reader when it comes to Dutch, I've had a wonderful time reading the histories of the 25 samplers that the book covers. In addition to great color photos of the antique samplers, there are also incredibly clear charts for ten of the samplers. Wow! Max and I both went home as happy campers! I can't find any decent links to this book, so I've taken a couple of pictures to show you how amazing it is. This is my favorite sampler, and can you believe how clear that chart is?

This weekend I won't be doing as much stitching as usual - indeed, I have to face the fact that I won't be doing as much stitching period. My course has a lot of homework involved and I just have to re-prioritize. Less stitching, more studying. Yikes! My first big thing will be to cut down on my deadline stitching. I've been trying to do 2 charity projects per month, and I'll drop that back to one (after I've met my current obligations). I'll also have to be careful about exchanges. It'll take some getting used to, that's for sure!

I hope this finds everyone enjoying the first days of autumn!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:04 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
19 September 2006
maybe I should've been Catholic
I am, of course, referring to the dreaded Nun's Stitch. Perhaps you remember the debacle in March of this year when I executed this stitch backwards on an ornament that was intended to be a gift? Well now I just don't know - I started doing the stitch on my Quaker exchange, but after a few centimeters, I realized that I really had no idea if I was doing it correctly or doing it backwards again. Are the little "teeth" of the stitch supposed to point inwards toward the stitching, or outwards toward where you'll cut the linen?

The sun is trying to come out this afternoon, but the wind and clouds are doing their best to send it back into hiding. Our Rowen has had a nasty cough for a week so she's having a nap (extremely rare). My sinuses have announced that it's autumn, and that may well be why I can't think straight. Hard to concentrate with what feels like an ice pick stuck through my skull. Nasty things, sinuses.

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But there's lots of good stitching to do to keep my mind off my ... well, my mind. Ha ha. Su's neighborhood RR arrived today from Annemarie and it is gorgeous! That's going to be very fun, though I will have to restrain myself from filling the block up the way I usually do. I'm plugging along on Sam's Harley logo quilt square. I still need to work on my smalls exchange, which might be a good idea for this afternoon if the sun is going to stay out. Over-one stitching is so much easier under natural light!

throwing down the gauntlet

Over on Barb's blog, I read of her 50 Projects Challenge. The deal is, you cannot purchase any charts until you have completed 50 (yes, fifty!) projects. This, folks is exactly what I need. We won't talk about how much I've spent on stash during the past 3 months, but it's shameful. I do have several orders out, but since they're already paid for, I can't do anything about those. From this day forward, though, I have to complete 50 projects before I'm allowed any new patterns! You're to give me 50 lashes if I fail!

Today's lovely artwork is lifted from here.
18 September 2006
I finished a gift set tonight and I would love to show it to you but I can't ... but I can show you a teeny bit of it.

I'm also working on my Quaker exchange, but I'm a bit stymied about how to ensure the linen won't fray when I cut it. I guess I'm going to have to do a Nun stitch around the edges. I was just looking for a lazy way out. Other than that, it's about ready to hit the post. (The picture shows the lovely scissors that Cathy gave me for my birthday - they are fabulous! Thanks again, Cathy!)

Other than the finishing I did today, I haven't been able to pick up a needle this weekend. Yesterday was filled with school (amazingly, I didn't dream anything Chinese last night) and today I visited with Conny, an online friend I met through eBay, and picked Max up. Lots of driving around. :( Mondays are not usually stitching days, with work, walking the dogs at the animal shelter, and an evening fitness class, but I'll see what I can squeeze in.
posted by mainely stitching at 12:02 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
16 September 2006
I can't chew gum and speak Chinese

Today was my first day of class ... the first step in what will hopefully be a 3-year journey toward my own acupuncture and herbalist practice. This year will be all theory - and with something like 3000 years of written history, there is a lot of Chinese theory to cover! We are also learning Chinese words that are fundamental to TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), and I discovered that it's not possible to speak Chinese with gum in one's mouth. LOL.

I have been stitching away like mad on a surprise, so I'm afraid I can't show you any pictures yet.

Reading: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer.
13 September 2006
make hay while the sun shines
I'm trying to keep on top of my (overdone!) deadline stitching, and so far it's going okay. I finished the first of Sam's quilt squares and have started the second one. I've finished the stitching of the first exchange I'm doing and started the second one. I've also started a piece that will be a Christmas gift ... the chart was so cute I simply had to start it now! I've also received the fabric for the additional two Hurricane Katrina quilt squares I'll be doing. And I've recieved some stash and made "friends" at a couple of new-to-me ONSs that I can recommend. Lastly, this morning, I daringly live-trapped the little brother or sister of the spider in my last post and released it outside. No, I'm not trying out for a spot on one of those Fear Factor TV shows ... Niek's been away on business and there is no one else here to rid the house of scary spiders. (Both spider and I survived the experience none the worse for wear, for any spider fans out there.)

I also want to explain that I've had to change the format of my blog to show only the most current post. Something is wonky with my template (I think) and my blog wasn't loading for most people (myself included). If you'd like to see past posts, just click on month you want to see in the Archives. For some reason, this method works a lot faster.

Okay, on to the pictures! (No spiders this time, so you can proceed without being worried of any ugly surprises!) Here is the first of Sam's squares. His theme is extreme sports, so I made this up myself, using some elements from my Jeanette Crews OmniBook. As usual, it's on 18 ct ivory aida using DMC. I used some of the DMC color variations, which is colorfast.

And here are my current WIPs - Sam's next quilt square and one of my other exchanges. I just realized that I haven't taken a picture of my MA exchange, but you aren't really missing much. I need to pay more attention to that one, and soon! The teensy bunny (or the brown blob, depending on your interpretation) is stitched over one on 36 ct Porcelain Silkweaver using Vikki Clayton silks. Good thing we've had some sunny weather to stitch by!

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Edited to include pictures from Photobucket account. Blogger's still being a pain.

For SEX experiences, I've recently received an order from Violarium, after spotting their ad in The Gift of Stitching, and in addition to the choice of different designers, great service, and reasonable shipping rates, they are FAST!! I also received an order from 123 Stitch, which isn't my first order from them, but when Joanne accidently forgot to include a skein of floss, she sent out a replacement the same day - and was considerate enough to not only enclose it in plastic, but to also put it in a bubble-pack envelope (all at her own cost). That's great service! And I can't leave without mentioning once again how very, very happy I am with my Monthly Bits from Stitching Bits and Bobs - the shipping is free, and the selection is always fantastic. Bobbie also includes a current freebie chart or two, which is always terribly exciting for me since I can't get freebies over here. A hearty thank you to these wonderful businesswomen who literally keep me in stitches!

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What I'm reading: The Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:35 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
11 September 2006
I want to be stitching!
Five years ago ... To everyone who lost someone five years ago today, I wish you peace. I don't know what else to say. Words are too little.

Sorry to have disappeared for a few days - it's just been busy with one thing and the other. I've been trying to keep up with my deadlines (so far, so good!) and we've had Niek's birthday party with his family, and various other this & that things going on.

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I think I'm safe in showing you one of my exchanges because the recipient is no one I've ever heard of and I'm pretty sure she doesn't read my blog. Even if she does see this picture, it's okay because the gift isn't finished yet and will look different in its final form. This is Miniature Quaker Sampler from Thistle Threads stitched on 32 ct Princess Pink linen from Silkweaver using a fabulous and unusual cotton floss from France that Isabelle sent me.

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We had a wonderful time with Niek's family yesterday, celebrating Niek's birthday. The kids had such a blast playing with each other!

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I did quite a lot of baking, but I think my oatmeal cookies came out the best. First time I've made them this way, and if you're interested, here's how I did it:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Cream 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1/2 room-temperature butter.

Combine and and beat in till smooth 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla, 4 tsp. cold coffee, dash of cinnamon.

Sift together and add to the above ingredients 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt.

When these have been beaten in smoothly, add 1 cup quick rolled oats, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 1/3 cup raisins. Mix thoroughly.

Roll into balls and bake on baking paper till the edges begin to turn light brown (this took about 12 minutes for a batch of 12 in my oven). Let cool on baking paper on a wire rack.

And for the really big excitement around here, look at the tarantula I found when cleaning before Niek's family arrived! Okay, it wasn't actually a tarantula, but it was some kind of spider as big as my hand. No kidding!! Needless to say, Niek had to come to my rescue.

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06 September 2006
I got so merry ...
... I could hardly count the dots on my dominos!

Okay, I can't take credit for that hilariously funny line, it's from Rowan Atkinson in one of the episodes from The Thin Blue Line.

Yesterday was Niek's birthday! Happy day to the man who makes my life a happy place!

The day didn't start off that auspiciously, however, when I actually forgot it was his special day. Niek forgave me, pointing out that he's used to my "brain being in the freezer" (his words!) for the first hour or so that I'm awake. I did finally catch on to his many hints just before he left for work. I felt terrible because he's always so wonderful when it's my birthday. I made up for it, a little bit, by having a huge bouquet of flowers delivered to him at work. He liked it, but said it made him feel "weird" to get flowers at work. LOL.

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Before he came home, the kids decorated his chair and made him a birthday crown, both of which are Dutch traditions for children's parties. Keeping in the theme, I called his Mom and got the low-down on his favorite bithday foods and how to make them. In all my nine years here, it's the most (traditional Dutch) cooking I've done! I have to admit that I goofed on the dessert, which was something I'd never made or eaten before, but Niek got the hugest laugh at my expression when I tried a bite that it was worth it. (I'm willing to laugh at myself!)

For his gift this year, I splurged on a leather jacket that I think makes him look better than James Dean. (Is that a selfish gift?)

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And today, it's back to stitching! I have a couple of projects that are a little different than my usual subjects. Watch this space...
03 September 2006
I don't know what happened to this weekend! I was supposed to have sunshine and leisure time. I did not. It rained or tried to rain all weekend long. Blech. I'm convinced I'm mildewing. And leisure time? Forget it - I've run around so much that I've met myself coming and going. My big stitching plan this weekend was to finish the first of Sam's quilt squares, and although I did manage to do three of the four small designs around the corners, it's not finished. But I was desperate for a finish, so tonight I whipped out a Lizzie Kate freebie and stitched it up. I needed to get some Christmas ornaments done anyway!

I hope that your weekend was full of good things!

PS: If you'd like this freebie, I got my copy by subscribing to the Daisy Stitches newsletter.
posted by mainely stitching at 11:45 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
01 September 2006
as if I didn't have enough
I'm occassionally frightened by how compulsive chart collecting can be. (We will not talk about fabric and fiber collecting. Thankfully I'm not much into beading and embellishing - yet!) As I mentioned, I have approximately one bazillion projects to do before November. And yet ...

The Cross Stitch Expo is up & running. I wanted to win some free charts, but that meant exposing myself to some new (to me) designers. And they were offering discounts for charts bought through the expo! And I did win several free ones! Am I forgiven?

Then I stumbled across Pam Kellogg's blog. How did I not know she has a blog? Anyway, she has dozens of free charts available on her blog. It takes an eternity to load (I would not even try if I were still stuck with dial-up) but it's well worth the time.

I see that it's nearing the Witching Hour and I'm tired enough to fall asleep sitting up. Why am I still up? I didn't even stitch anything tonight! Speaking of the Witching Hour and stitching, I had such high hopes of doing all kinds of fun Halloween designs this year. Has anyone else had more success than I have?

To end on a very happy note, the weather forecast calls for sun this weekend. This will be the first time since our return that we'll have a sunny day! Yippee!!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:45 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments