Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The number of people who have jumped into the Crazy January Challenge since I first saw it has reached amazing proportions. I am still considering it. (The challenge is to start a new project for the first 15 days of new year and then finish those projects in 2011.) I know that I can easily pull 15 projects that I would like to see completed. What I need to do is seriously look at the other things I'm committed to stitching in 2011 and see how the two lists dovetail. The Crazy Challenge could be complete madness if I come up with too  many things on the other list.

In stitchy news:

I have begun claiming my daughter's former room as my own. Last night we moved the queen sized bed out of there. And moved a comfy stitchy chair in. What I need to do:

1) repaint dark green wall - a shade of lavender is what I think this room needs.

2) pack up all her Disney figurines and brick-a-brack in the old china cabinet

3) move her books out

4) finish moving my books in

Where we stand:  I've moved her dresser out and nearly emptied her closet. My Elfa baskets are in the closet and my closet has nearly returned to the life of normal closet. This means about half of my supplies are now in her room.

This is the wrong time of the year to tackle a project like this. It's all I want to do. When I really need to be working on what's needed at the holiday party. And wrapping and mailing gifts to my far flung relatives.

On my wish list:

A small TV and maybe Roku?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Behold the bird. Best part of the meal? The gravy. It's taken me years, but I have finally perfected gravy that does not rely on any "outside" help, like Gravy Master, etc. The secret is in making a roux. 
"I can has turkey?" We have a photo of Elvis from Thanksgiving 2003 where I caught him just as he was going to put his nose in the cream on the pumpkin pie. This kitty does love a holiday, though Christmas and birthdays are his favorites. Any time there's wrapping paper.
Was there stitching? Yes there was. Unfortunately this is not photographic evidence of it. This is a needleminder I did a few years ago on the congress cloth which is what I was working on. I didn't know my daughter had taken this pic. 

I did get to stitch on my Echoes of Elizabeth needlecase, but I do not think it will be finished by Wednesday, which was the deadline. My finishing may be a few days off. Or maybe a week. LOL
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What to do when you're stuffed? Roll onto your back and put your legs in the air. This is a nightly after dinner performance at our house. Kitty has no shame.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let the Cooking Begin

Woof. It's only 9:30 and I'm already tired.

It took four hours, not two, yesterday to retrieve my son from school. I wish they would give up and just let them have the entire week off. The only thing that will worse, will be getting him back to school. I don't even want to think about that drive. 

How to avoid the predicted 20 mile back up at the Newark tolls? Well, my daughter did it by arriving here at 3 in the a.m. 

Top two floors of the house are relatively clean. The basement floor where I am now needs some attention. Why can I never have all three floors clean at the same time? 

Today's plan - veggie lasagna for dinner. Maybe make some French bread? Bake Parker House rolls. Bake a pumpkin pie. Bake a caramel cake. That's enough for one day. And make one last trip to the grocery store. The list is short so it should be okay. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Big Sister

It's your day! Sorry you have to work. But I know you'll make the most of it. 

Can I say that I am very tired of hearing leaf removal in my neighborhood? All day yesterday. And it's started again today. Eck. It's setting my teeth on edge. 

Which means I should go turn on my vacuum cleaner and drown out their noise with my own noise. 

I've got a bit of cleaning still to do and then it's off to pick up my son. And tonight will be the middle of the night arrival of my daughter and her boyfriend. Yeah!!! All of us in the same place at the same time. Hasn't happened since last January. 

In stitching news: 

I had two projects in my purse Sunday night when we went to see Allan Toussaint, Nick Payton, and the Joe Krown Trio. I was stitching on my Highland cow bookmark before the show started. And when I pulled it out at intermission I realized I had made a boo-boo. Oops. Ripping required. No faking it. Good thing it's little. Because right now I cannot deal with mistakes. So I pull out the other project and realize that I don't have a needle. Things are conspiring against me stitching any ornaments this year even though I had planned to do one a month. I don't think I've completed a single one. LOL

So much for plans.

Great. I just saw men with chainsaws behind the house. Time for some tree trimming? More noise. I'm outta here. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

What? Another Book Meme?

Anna and her book memes. I play along every time.

ABC Book Meme
For this meme, you list a favorite book that starts with each letter of the alphabet. If you don’t have a book for a letter (such as Z or X) then you can substitute a favorite book that simply has that letter in the title (ex. The Lost City of Z or Hot Six by Janet Evanovich). However, you can only do this a maximum of 3 times. (Z, X, and Q. But not Z, X, Q, and V.) Books can be of any genre from fiction to non-fiction to poetry to textbooks. 

My answers. Let's see how many I can do just by using books of poetry on the shelves behind me...

A:   Ariel by Sylvia Plath
B:  Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton
C:  Circles on the Water by Marge Piercy
D:  Distant Early Warning by Rad Smith
E:  Evangaline by Longfellow
F: Fathering Words by E. Ethelbert Miller
G: Good Poems for Hard Times edited by Garrison Keillor
H:  Hard Not to Be King by Robert Frost
I:  Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson
J:  Jackstraws by Charles Simic
K: Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
L:  Live or Die by Anne Sexton
M: My Wicked Ways by Sandra Cisneros
N:  Night Rider by Robert Penn Warren
O:  O Taste and See by Denise Levertov
P:  Poems of Love and Marriage by John Ciardi
Q: Questions about Angels by Billy Collins
R:  Red Letter Days by Mekeel McBride
S:  Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Marie Rilke
T:  Twenty Years in Bed with the Same Man by Joan Logghe
U: For the Union Dead by Robert Lowell (1)
V: Visitations by Louis MacNeice
W:  What a Kingdom It Was by Galway Kinnell
X: Exiles and Marriages by Donald Hall (2)
Y:  Your Name Here by John Ashberry
Z:  Blizzard of One:  Poems by Mark Strand (3)

The worst part is that did not take me that long. And it would have been faster if I had ignored the word "the" as I was tempted to do.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Progress Report

I think it's time to show some progress. Proof that when I say I am stitching, I am. 

First up, we have Matter's Choice by Carriage House Samplings. This is the Autumn Gold linen by Lakeside Linens that is called for, but the size is different. The original is on 40ct and I had a piece of 32ct in my stash. I am using the Needlepoint Inc silk in the proper color, though when I initially kitted this, I forgot to buy more silk to accommodate the change in size. I have remedied that. I started this on the flight to New Orleans on Halloween. I worked on it one day during that trip. And started the squirrel while at the Loudoun Sampler Guild meeting which was funny as a friend of mine had finally framed her version of this and brought it for show and tell. 

 This is known as the Mystery Sampler bellpull from the EGA magazine, Needlearts, published in many parts in 2005-2006. I think it needs a new name. 

I wasn't fond of the colors so I changed them. LOL

I have to say that the bit below the PQR was nearly my undoing. You have to cut threads and weave them into the side. Terrific, as the cut ends are almost one inch long. I did it. With much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Okay. Really. My friends would tell you that translates to sighing and swearing.

And lastly we have some progress on Echoes of Elizabeth. I need to work on this like a fool if I'm going to finish it by the end of November. At least the over one stitching with charcoal is finished on both the outside and the inside. This piece is on three sets of stretcher bars. One for the outside. One for the inside which is identical to the outside up to a point. And one more set for the little pieces on the inside. I need to finish up with the gold metallic so I can start adding some color to this piece.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Stitching in Public

The third Wednesday of the month is my guild's regular stitch in public day. Several of us meet at a local Panera's, order food and/or drink and then stitch for two or more hours. 

We have had people stop and talk to us. Maybe they don't come and join our guild, but maybe someday, sometime, they will recognize and join another guild. 

Our favorite story involves a young lady, her younger brother, and their dad. The children wandered over to see what we doing. One of us volunteered a piece of fabric, needle and thread and had started the girl on making Xs. She was probably 6 or 7. And got going full-steam ahead. Finally Dad had to pull the plug on her fun and tell her it was time to leave. And she said, "Just a few more stitches." We all cracked up. How often have we all said that? "Just a few more stitches." or "Let me finish this thread." 

This past Wednesday I was unable to attend because I went to open house for the GIS program at my local community college. All part of going back to school. I'm not foolish. I brought some stitching. Sat down in the front row, pulled it out, and started to work. The Prof who is the head of the dept. kept glancing my way, but he never did come and talk to me. LOL But I did talk to lovely woman who handles the paperwork for the dept. and she said she used to cross stitch. And I encouraged her to start again. 

I'm not sure why, but stitching in public is much more satisfying when so many people around me are sitting there playing with their phones.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Meme

I'm sure this is going to take more time than I have right now. Let's see how fast I can type without time for reflection. 

I got this from Anna.

Favorite childhood book?Without a doubt, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

What are you reading right now? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

What books do you have on request at the library?Zip. Last book I had on hold was The Dome by Steven King

Bad book habit?Food stains from reading while alone eating lunch.

What do you currently have checked out at the library?None. Last book I read from the library was The Girls of Ames, Iowa.

Do you have an e-reader? A Nook. And that's how I read The Girls from Ames, Iowa.

Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?Now that I have a Nook, I am back to reading multiple books at once.

Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?Maybe slightly less time for reading. But I think that's because I'm spending more time stitching.

Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)There must be one, but I can't think of one right now. Oh wait - Phillipa Gregory's The Red Queen. Did she really write this one?

Favorite book you’ve read this year? Boozehound by Jason Wilson. Not fiction, in case you're wondering.

How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Often.

What is your reading comfort zone? I prefer fiction to non-fiction. But will read anything. I love good biographies. My "guilty pleasures" are sci-fi, fantasy, and mysteries.

Can you read on the bus or train? Yes.

Favorite place to read?In bed. I read nearly every night before going to sleep. It's almost impossible for me to go to sleep without reading.

What is your policy on book lending? To good friends only. But even then, I've been burned. My favorite was the time I lent two books on how live a frugal life to a friend. Who later moved away with my books. I guess the lesson she learned was live frugally by stealing from your friends.

Do you ever dog-ear books? Never.

Do you ever write in the margins of your books?No. That's what notebooks are for.

Not even with text books? I highlight, but I don't write.

What is your favorite language to read in? English

If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?What is this if? I've read books in both French and German. I can still read in French.

What makes you love a book? Being transported.

What will inspire you to recommend a book? I've pretty much stopped this practice.

Favorite genre? Fiction.

Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?) ??? If I wished I read the genre, I do. What kind of f'd up question is this?

Favorite biography?This year it was Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir.

 Have you ever read a self-help book? Yes.

Favorite cookbook? The Joy of Cooking - the 1970's edition I've been using decades. That's my go to cookbook that I'd want on the proverbial desert island. 

Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? The two Richard Brautigan books I found at the used bookstore - Rommel Drives on Deep Into Egypt and The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster.
Favorite reading snack?Nuts.

Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.  This happens to me all the time. How about A Confederacy of Dunces? Hated it.

How often do you agree with critics about a book? I'd have to read the critics to know. 

How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?  Not a problem.

Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?Books do not intimidate me.

Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? Really?

Favorite Poet?Argh. Too many to choose. This week, because it's autumn and beautiful outside, let's say Mary Oliver.

How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time? Used to be 4-5. Now I'm reading on my Nook. And only have one library book at a time on there.

How often have you returned book to the library unread?Hardly ever.

Favorite fictional character? Jo March.

Favorite fictional villain? Moby Dick.

Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation? TheNook. I'm taking my library with me!

The longest I’ve gone without reading. Certainly less than 24 hours.

Name a book that you could/would not finish. War and Peace. But I'm vowing publicly to give it another try.

What distracts you easily when you’re reading? Nothing.

Favorite film adaptation of a novel? The Hours.

Most disappointing film adaptation? Without a doubt, Dune.

The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?I have no idea.

How often do you skim a book before reading it? Sometimes?

What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through? I almost always finish every book. It has to be completely inane for me to stop.

Do you like to keep your books organized? In an ideal world, yes.

Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?Books that I keep. All needlework, most cookbooks, all poetry. Fiction, I pass on.

Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?Certainly.

Name a book that made you angry. My mind is a blank of this.

A book you didn’t expect to like but did. Moby Dick. I'm an English major who escaped reading this book. I read it maybe 6 or 7 years ago. And loved it.

A book that you expected to like but didn’t. There are way too many books that fall into this category today. The publishing world should be ashamed. 

Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading. Stupid, silly mysteries.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nothing Exciting

Honestly. There is nothing new here. I'm being up front so no one will be disappointed. Let's just sit here and type and see what comes out...

No time to stitch yesterday. DS, at college one hour's drive away on a good day, has suffered a computer meltdown. And we've ordered him a new one. But it's taking longer getting here than it should and yesterday I drove down and loaned him our laptop. Why we couldn't have figured this out on Monday, when I had free time and the weather was gorgeous, I don't know. Instead I found myself crawling down the Parkway with people who can't drive over forty m.p.h. when there is precipitation. Took about 1 1/2 hours to get there. But I had time to take him to breakfast at Cracker Barrel before his class. 

Then I decided, seeing how I was in Fredericksburg and all, to go shopping. I went to Ten Thousand Villages - a store with a mission:  Ten Thousand Villages provides vital, fair income to Third World people by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America. Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This income helps pay for food, education, health care and housing. Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit program of Mennonite Central Committee. For those you who don't live near these stores, you can click the link and shop the store. I did find something that actually has bought me some time, i.e., I purchased a gift that I was going to stitch. Stitched gift will still happen, but just not for this Christmas. 

I continued on through the rain and explored the new Hobby Lobby. I used to love shopping at Hobby Lobby when we lived in Colorado Springs. I had forgotten how much home decor stuff these stores have. I didn't end up with stitching stuff, but I did find somethings needed to complete a scrapbooking project. I even drove across the way to the A.C. Moore to see if they had any misses pieces of my puzzle. Lots more people in the Hobby Lobby, but that's probably just the newness factor. 

Next, I went to Lowe's for a filter for the fridge. Ten dollars cheaper here than at Sears. Interesting. 

While locating the filters, I bumped into a clearance sale on lamps. And bought a floor lamp and a table lamp for what will be my new studio. 

Came home way later than I had intended. Put together the floor lamp. Then it was on to the big business of the day. Deconstructing DD's twin bed. I didn't have the muscle to get her bed frame apart. But soon enough DH was home to help and we moved our bed into DD's room. Because we've got a new mattress and boxspring arriving today. I have to say that when we to sleep in my DD's room last night, the cats were totally befuddled. 

I fell asleep imaging what I can do to that room the week after Thanksgiving. Move in a chair and a desk. Remove her books. (I've already started moving my needlework library into this room.) Move dresser into my room where it will go into my closet. I want to repaint one wall. I'd love to rip out the carpet and put in laminate flooring. Remove closet doors. 

Off to clean my bedroom. Much easier to vacuum without a bed in it...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's Visit the Garden District, Shall We?

But first, a tour through what's happening Chez Me?

I am back to stitching on my Gay Ann Rogers class piece - Echoes of Elizabeth. I've got a ways to go in order to be ready for finishing at the beginning of December. It is very peaceful and soothing and as soon as I make some progress that looks like progress I'll post a photo. Right now it's just ecru and black and gold. Though it does look like it could be a cameo. 

Yesterday was November's Loudoun Sampler Guild meeting where I dropped out of a silent auction at $135. It's nice to know I know my limits. But still - that was an $80 dollar basket all that stitching stuff was in and ...

We had a presentation from Barbara Hutson of the Queenstown Sampler about her new sampler, which by the way is one of the stitch alongs for the Ellen Chester sampler group next year. Elizabeth Mears  is gorgeous and I may be destined to buy her. Barbara bought the sampler on E-bay and it was fascinating to hear how she's spent her time documenting her find. If you're looking for a big sampler to stitch next year, this is a good one!

Now let's go check out the Garden District...

On Saturday, our last full day in New Orleans, my husband and I decided to take the St. Charles streetcar through the Garden District. Who knew we both had ulterior motives? 

We picked up the streetcar just east of the Lee Circle and boy was it crowded. Standing room only. Now we're thinking we are not going to be able to see much of the houses, etc. And we decide to get off between a cigar store for my DH and a needlework store for me. 

We walk from St. Charles down to Magazine Street along more bumpy uneven sidewalks. And when we get to Magazine, he goes west and I go east and he's going to meet me at the needlework store. 

I've been walking and walking for nine blocks. We were way closer to the cigar store than the needlework store. I've gone through mostly residential areas and then suddenly it turns into a commercial area and here I am.

The store is arranged with mostly knitting on the left and needlepoint on the right. Crystal chandeliers and everything.

Here's where I had fun. This stand is filled with ornament kits. The tree is off to the left. I had to practice some restraint because I wanted them all. 


Here's what I bought - the cathedral at night:  the threads with this one are metallic and shiny. The streetcar named Desire. The Acadian flag. And the cathedral in daylight. There's one more, but I can't show it as it is a gift. I thought I was buying it for myself, but realized it much more fitting for someone else. The flag is now halfway finished. Pretty easy stitching on 13ct. canvas on an airplane. 

I'm extremely thankful to my husband for inviting me along on this trip to New Orleans. We had a tremendous time!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Day Late

For Veteran's Day, I give you a few photos I took at the WWII Museum in New Orleans. 

I see where someone got the inspiration from for the Darth Vader costume.

A flag off a boat that participated in landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day.

This quote slays me.
"You can't buy valor and you can't pull heroes off an assembly line."

After touring the museum, we had tickets to see the 4-D movie, "Beyond All Boundaries" at the theater next door. I really wasn't expecting much. But I should have known better. They should have tissues in this theater. Watching this was a very emotional experience.

Well, I know a good thing when I see it. A John Best restaurant? Count me in.

For lunch, I had a Sazerac cocktail. The spicy garlic chili glazed chicken appetizers with watermelon pickles. A side of southern greens. And a side of cheese grits with jalapenos. The chicken was excellent. The pickled green beans, watermelon, and apples were terrific. The greens didn't need anything - usually I go for some vinegar or hot sauce. And the grits were the best I've ever had. Oh, and the cocktail, while not better than the Sazeracs we had at Arnaud's, was marvelous. 

In fact, the cocktail was so marvelous, that when we were walking back by here at 5 p.m. we went back in for happy hour - 1/2 price drinks and 75 cent sloppy joe sliders. 

But the true reason we went back, was because at lunchtime I talked the ladies sitting next to us into having desert. We were too full to have desert ourselves. And the desert I talked them into was:

Sugarcane iced cupcake with candied bacon which came with bowl of terrific vanilla ice cream and a German chocolate cupcake. (No irony there...) Thus sliders, Sazeracs, and cupcakes with ice cream was our last great meal in New Orleans.

P.S. If anyone thinks candied bacon does not sound like a good idea, I can assure you, it's a fantastic idea.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday is EGA Day

What happens when you belong to more than one guild, is that sometimes you find yourself with multiple EGA things to do in one day. 

This morning I was at the D.C. EGA chapter where the program, very nicely done by a friend of mine, was about Italian needlework. And more specifically she showed us how to make an Italian knotted tassel. It's actually very simple, but can lead to some complex creations. 

Jeanine, of the Italian Needlework blog, demonstrates a version here:  Knotted Tassel II.

Mine needs a little more refinement before I take a photo. I guess I haven't truly paid attention to tassels. But now I will. 

Tonight is the last board meeting of the year for my other EGA chapter, Oatlands. Next year, I'll be moving into the VP slot for membership. I love working with this group of ladies. For the most part, we all know how to be professional. And we know how to have a good time. 

In between these two events, I managed a quick dash to a LNS, In Stitches (see link below.) This was strictly a pearl cotton and needles run. Though a few extra skeins of overdyed cotton may have jumped into my bag. I even resisted the canvases that were 45% off. 

On my way back, I was thrilled to finally have my chance to drive on a road that has had an incomplete part that has finally been finished. Here's to being able to drive the entire length of the Fairfax County Parkway! It was a long time getting here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mom Apple Pie MaryJane

This was the cover of the Washington Post Sunday Magazine on October 31st. The artwork is by Jenny Hart. She says it's her first attempt at cross stitch. You can find out more about her here on her blog - Embroidery as Art.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Quarter Stitch

I'm not sure how much of my New Orleans trip I will post here. Let's start with the stuff you might be interested in.

On Monday I escaped the clutches of the conference and wandered back into the French Quarter to explore the aptly named The Quarter Stitch. 

From the outside looking in the windows.

Even the post gets decorated.
Inside the shop:  lots of hand painted canvases attached to the walls. Lots of yarns. Not a lot of fibers for needlepoint. Just your basic DMC and Paternyan.

There is a front room. A middle room. And a wee tiny backroom that holds cross stitch charts and models of local things. You can cross stitch a gumbo recipe. Or a streetcar.

But, oh don't we do a pretty job of wrapping the treasures.

What I bought:  A cross stitch chart of a St. Charles line streetcar. A chart of mini-motifs of New Orleans. A Joan Thomasson kit of the Merry Widow. I couldn't decide between her and the Fallen Angel. And a mini-stocking of a cajun santa. 

Did I get to stitch in the Big Easy? Yup. Just a bit. I think I finally mastered the counting on a hardanger border but by the time I mastered it I was frustrated and put it down. I started Matter's Choice, Carriage House Samplings,  on the airplane and continued with that in our hotel room. 

Speaking of Carriage House, Kathy has announced that her younger sister, Mary, is going to take over the company. That means that Carriage House isn't going away after all. Can't wait to see what direction this all takes. Read the news here in Kathy's blog.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


I am certain you will be proud of me when I say that it took less than 36 hours in New Orleans fo find me up on stage performing baack up to Proud Mary. And I hadn't had nearly enough bourbon to the song justice.

My 'net access here is limited. More later.