God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;
the warmth of Christmas, which is love;
the radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
the belief in Christmas, which is truth;
& all of Christmas, which is Christ.
--Wilda English

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weight Loss Update #15

Another 4 pounds gone this past week.  As of today I have lost a total of 54 pounds, 14 of them on maintenance.  Beats me   : )  

This is going to be my last Weight Loss Update post for a while.  I will continue on maintenance for a few weeks yet since there are a couple go-aways planned & it would be difficult to be on the diet away from home.  I will probably resume the diet sometime in October.  Perhaps by that time I won't have much further to go to reach the weight my doctor wants me to be & I won't have to be on the diet for very long.  Let's hope   : )

Giveaway at Blessings in the Country

I have seen some amazing giveaways in my short history of blogging & this is definitely one of them!  Blessings in the Country is offering a gorgeous autumn stitchery ...


... a tea stained muslin bag full of Sweet Annie ...


... 2 grungy candles with a pumpkin spice scent, rolled in spices ...


... & 3 Halloween melts scented with pumpkin cinnamon spice!


The winner will be drawn on Monday, September 19, & will take home all 4 prizes!

This blog is definitely worth following ... giveaway or no giveaway!  Do check it out   : )

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stitching Again : )

After posting about my stitching woes on Saturday night I decided to go back to Deb Peterson's Pilgrims & Pioneers Stitches site in one more desperate attempt to find something to stitch before someone needed to be called to take me away & put me in a padded room!  I picked out 3 pinkeep charts & wrote to Deb asking her for a breakdown of the floss colors thinking surely I would have all the floss necessary for at least one of them!  Did I???  No!!!  How crazy is that ... lol!  I was missing 1 or 2 skeins for each project.  I'm guessing I didn't choose my color palatte very well when I went floss shopping a couple weeks ago ... sigh!  Anyway, it occurred to me that I would be heading to the doctor in Lexington today ... & what else is in Lexington?  A JoAnns store!  Checked their sales flyer online last night ... DMC is 3 skeins for 99 cents!  Will be stopping there before my appointment & stocking up on a few skeins I need for upcoming projects & I'll probably grab a few others as well   : )

It also occurred to me that duh!  I didn't need to wait until I had all the floss for a project ... I could just start something & add those floss colors later!  So yesterday I started stitching this pinkeep from Deb's site ...

    
Life is so much better now   : )    

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Morning

"...Man shall not live on bread alone, 
but on every word that proceeds
out of the mouth of God."
Matthew 4:4

I'm sure you have read it as well as heard it countless times ... you need to feed your spirit.  What is one of the ways to feed your spirit?  By reading God's Word.

I will admit that for some time now I have not read my Bible like I used to.  I used to wake up early in the morning, speak a few memorized scriptures, brew a cup of tea, & then sit in my recliner reading my Bible.  I would read Psalms until something really spoke to me & then I would stop & think about whatever it was.  If it was something that particularly touched me I would go about memorizing it.  I would also read a Proverb each day.  I would then pick a book to read, again stopping when something spoke to me & thinking about whatever it was ... maybe memorizing it.  I also had a time of Bible reading at night before I went to sleep.  

I can pinpoint when I stopped doing this but not why.  I do know that my life was in a shambles for quite a while.  It was a time I should have done even more reading, more meditating, more memorizing ... but instead I was so overwhelmed by what was happening around me that I was lucky I didn't just go into the garage, turn on the car & let it run.  (I thought about it.)  I couldn't wait to go to bed at night so I could escape the things that were happening by sleeping for a few hours ... & I would wake up the next morning dreading the day & longing for it to be over so I could go back to bed & sleep again.  I wasn't reading God's Word or giving Him the attention that I used to give Him ... I just didn't have the strength ... but He still loved me & watched over me.  He still protected me from myself.  

I do pray but I don't devote as much time to it as I used to.  Am I proud of this?  Of course not.  Is my spirit starving?  Yes, it is.  You know how I can tell?  I often go to someone's blog & notice a bit of scripture somewhere on their sidebar.  I read it & I can feel my spirit drinking it in like a dried up sponge that has received a bit of water.  

Keith Green, a Christian music artist who went home to be with the Lord quite a few years ago, was totally devoted to God & he wrote many, many songs that "tell it like it is."  One of those songs, "You Love the World (& You're Avoiding Me)," speaks on the topic of letting other things crowd out your time with God.  It is written as if God is talking.  This is a part of the lyrics ...

"My Word sits there upon your desk
but you love your books & magazines the best.
You prefer the light of your TV.
You love the world, & you're avoiding Me."

When I do want to read something, I find myself reaching for a book or a magazine.  I find time to watch DVDs.  I find time to make crafts.  I find time for so many things.  I need to start finding time for God's Word again.  

Perhaps your spirit has been wasting away for a while as well.  Let's change this today.  Let's make our spirits overweight with God's Word & put all the other things in life in second place.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Arghhh!!! (Stitching Woes)

Evenings are my time to sit & relax with a bit of stitching.  I am on the final leg of my Thanksgiving needleroll journey but I am experiencing a bit of anxiety with the "removing fabric threads, hemming ends, sewing together, threading ribbon, stuffing" thing.  It's not something that's going to be relaxing for me.  Therefore I decided to tackle this part of the needleroll when I'm better able to focus all my attention on it.  I decided that in the meantime I would begin a new stitching project tonight.  Something relaxing.

Since returning to stitching I've purchased several fabrics, several pattern charts, & a lot of threads.  I have, in fact, 160+ DMC threads & the entire collections of Weeks Dye Works & Gentle Arts threads.  This afternoon I sat with my pattern charts trying to decide which new project to begin, but arghhh!!!  If I have the fabric called for in a pattern chart then I don't have all the threads ... & if I have all the threads then I don't have the fabric!!!  I can't believe this!!!

I decided to print out a couple freebie patterns offered by various designers thinking I'd go ahead & start one of them.  I could use whatever fabric I had on hand!  But do I have the required threads???  NO!  Of course not!  Again I say it ... arghhh!!!!!

I imagine I'm feeling like someone trying to give up smoking.  My hands are craving to stitch a project but I don't have one!  It's torture I tell you!  Torture!!!

I do realize that I am free to substitute threads & fabrics.  However, I have this OCD thing.  I figure if the designer spent all that time searching through her fabrics & threads to pick just the right ones, who am I to substitute?  I will even take it a step further than that.  I have a pattern chart here that calls for Belle Soie silk floss.  The designer kindly provides a DMC conversion chart but adds that if you use the DMC your project won't have the same "depth & play of color" as the model has.  So why on earth would I want to spend many, many, many hours stitching this pattern chart (it's a large, involved project) only to end up with a pale, washed out copy of the original?  

It's movie night so I'm going to watch a movie with my husband.  Hopefully I won't see someone stitching something ... I might fly to the screen & try to get my hands on it!!!  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sitting, Stitching, & Sleeping

This is how I spent my day yesterday & I think today will be a repeat.  John & I went out in the yard to water things on Wednesday evening.  It hasn't rained here for a while & everything was dry.  I am so dismayed to find that the flowers, trees, & bushes struggle in the hot temperatures & dryness but the weeds flourish.  I am particularly dismayed that the weeds are flourishing in our newly landscaped areas.  The owner of the landscaping company, Bob, told me that if any weeds should happen to pop up through the mulch I should just spritz them with Round Up & that would take care of them.  However, our weeds are apparently mutations of some sort.  They love to be spritzed with Round Up!  They love to be drenched it in!  I give them a good soaking & the next day I swear they are larger & greener than before & they have invited friends & family members to join them.  I am not happy with Bob's work.  The only thing I can see to do is scrape off the thick layer of mulch he put down, spray the weeds, & then put that black weed preventer fabric over the beds & replace the mulch.  That will be a huge job so it's not getting done anytime soon but I don't see any other way to fix the problem.

I'm actually leaning toward joining the NMG movement (No More Gardening).  I enjoy looking at pretty plants & watching the butterflies & hummingbirds & bees enjoy them too ... but I don't like putting hours of work (& money) into weeding & planting & fertilizing & the like, sweating in 90-100 degree temperatures, dealing with all sorts of bugs, & ending up with back pains & leg pains from kneeling & bending over only to have everything look nice one day & then a few days later it's looking terrible again.

Sorry ... got off on a tangent there.  How unusual for me ... not!  Lol!  What I was trying to say is that John & I went outside to water things & we spent almost 2 hours just watering the plants behind the house.  We still have to do the ones in front of the house.  The last time I went outside to water things in the evening I had difficulty breathing for about a week afterward.  It was as if a heavy weight was sitting on my chest.  At that time the neighbor next door was having his hay field mowed & I sort of connected my breathing problems with maybe that mowing releasing some sort of allergens into the air.  There was no hay being mowed this time though.  I know that Bob the landscaper mixed something in with the mulch & I'm guessing that when it's disturbed (like when watering) it releases something into the air that I'm allergic to.  Sigh!

Still with me?  Lol!  Okay ... so here I am having difficulty breathing & feeling very, very tired.  As a result I sat in my recliner most of the day yesterday & worked on my Thanksgiving needleroll.  I am excited to say that the stitching is almost done!  I have a few more beads to add, then I need to remove a few threads on each side to make a space to weave in the ribbon, & then the only thing left after that will be stitching up the seam & stuffing the needleroll.  I'm always a bit apprehensive when doing finishing work.  I'm always afraid I'm going to make a big mistake & all my work will be ruined.  Hopefully finishing the needleroll won't be as difficult as it seems   : )

So yesterday was spent sitting in my recliner & stitching interspersed with a few naps.  Today will be more of the same.  I am not trying to rush my needlework project but I am already wondering what project I will tackle next.  I have quite a few waiting in line ... not to mention the design ideas   : )

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend & that those of you on the East Coast will be safe from the storm.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can Anyone Spare A Small Piece of Dark Orange Wool Felt???

I'm begging for a small piece of dark orange wool felt ... just a 3" square or so.  No one sells it around here so I figured I'd just order a regular size sheet of it, 12x18.  Found a few online sources offering them for under $2.00 but they all want $4.95 for shipping!  I thought I'd post here & ask if any of my blog followers could possibly help me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weight Loss Update #14

Two more pounds gone.  Since starting my 6 weeks of maintenance I have lost a total of 10 pounds.  Very unusual.  After all, "maintenance" is supposed to be just that ... maintaining your weight over a period of time.  The only thing that I'm guessing contributed to this unexpected loss is the fact that I have been eating based on food combining.  Food combining was a part of a healthy eating plan that I followed a couple of times in the past.  You don't combine carbs with proteins, you eat fruit by itself, & you wait a certain amount of time to eat one of these categories before/after eating another.  Anyway, I should be starting back on the diet but I'm going to wait until I see my doctor on Monday & talk with her about it.  It seems my health took a nosedive in conjunction with my losing weight.  I'm wondering if I turned out to be "over-supplemented" when I saw her for my initial appointment because my weight had dropped & my body didn't need the same amount of medication anymore?

I made crafting progress yesterday & will work on things again today.  I am happy to report that by being rather astute last night I was able to "stretch" my overdyed floss by starting out with a solid color visible in the overdye (I'm suspecting they used this solid color as a base) & then picking up with the overdye.  It worked just fine for the fancy stitching I needed to do across one area.  I don't really anticipate any further problems until I get to the point where I need to take the stitched piece & make it into a needleroll.  Wish me luck!

Another thing I did yesterday was look through some old photographs.  This is something I have not done for many a year & there's a good reason ... the passage of time.  I am not afraid of getting old.  In fact, I've always rather looked forward to it.  There is a wisdom that comes with the years.  By the time you are somewhere in your 50s you have usually learned what really matters in this life.  You are not swayed by the current trends.  You don't live your life based on how you think others will perceive you.  I did say "usually" ... lol!  I'm sure there are some people who sadly haven't learned these things.  I talked about plastic surgery & the obsession with physical appearance a couple weeks ago.  I'm sure there are people who have "good genes" & they naturally look younger than they really are ... but not 25 years younger!  I have met people from time to time & they admit to being in their late 50s or early to mid 60s ... sometimes even older ... but they have the appearance of being in their late 30s or early 40s.  Except for a very, very few instances, you know that a 65-year-old person is not going to naturally look 40.  It's quite sad really ... & freakish sometimes.  Sorry ... I'm getting away from the point of this paragraph which was looking at old photographs.  I was actually searching for some photos of the woman I've mentioned who has Alzheimer's disease.  I did find them ... but in my search I also came across photos of my husband & myself in our early years of marriage & it was like "Did we really look like that once upon a time?!?!?"  I didn't really think "if only we still looked like that" but I did think "if only we could go back to that time knowing what we know now."  I've heard many older people over the years say this same thing ... that they wish they could be young again & know what they know now.  That can't happen of course but I think it should teach us something.  One day 20 years from now we are going to look back to this day & think "I wish I could go back to that time & know what I know now."  Yes ... with age comes wisdom.

Below is a photo of the woman I mentioned that we finally tracked down only to discover she has severe Alzheimer's.  We are planning to visit her in October even though she won't know who we are.  I'm sure it will be extremely difficult to see her but both my husband & I are hoping to be strong.  The only "helpful" thing might be that she doesn't look like this anymore ... doesn't look like we remember her.  Still, we will know that it's her.

  
I apologize for the poor condition of the photo.  You know what these old photo albums are like.  Over the years the pictures have forever adhered themselves to the pages which are discoloring & starting to fall apart.

May you all have a very blessed day   : )         

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WIPs

WIPs = Works in Progress for those of you who might not know that   : )

I have been making it a point to work on my cross stitch in the evenings & to try to take care of some crafting projects sometime during the day.  These are not, of course, things I need to "force" myself to do.  It's just that with all the other things happening lately these fun things sometimes take a back seat.  You get up in the morning thinking "I'd like to stitch today!" & then before you know it you're getting ready for bed & wondering where the day went.

My needleroll is coming along rather slowly.  Removing stitches & redoing certain areas hasn't helped things move along very quickly.  Curse this perfectionism/OCD ... lol!  Of course I'm not trying to rush things.  The pleasure is in the stitching ... the finished product is just a bonus   : )   Anyway, this is my progress thus far ...

      
I've got a few more cross stitches to add ... then I will tackle the fancy stitches, the lace attachment, the beads, & the finishing.  I was told by someone that instead of finishing these items into needlerolls they make little samplers out of them.  I think that's a perfectly wonderful idea but I've got my heart set on a basket full of different needlerolls   : )   Hopefully I will not run into problems with this one because I have very little of the overdyed floss left & I discovered last night that I need it for one of the rows of fancy stitches.  I might have to set this aside while I contact the company to see if they can send me more of the overdye.  

My other WIP ... well, technically I have more than these two but these are my focus right now ... is these dolls ...


I really can't give any details because one of them will be sent to my exchange partner in a doll swap & I don't know if this person is lurking around here or not   : )   I can't tell you what I might end up doing with the second doll ... tee-hee-hee   : )   I can tell you that not unlike the prim dolls I made last month, these are a type of doll I've never made before.  So far I haven't run into any major snags.  I'm especially delighted that the directions actually describe each step in making them!  What a concept ... lol!   

There are a lot of things I need to tackle today so I had better get to them.  However, I want to first leave you with a sentiment that I read on my friend Trace's blog this morning.  That sentiment is "Call or hug someone special today & tell them you are thinking of them."  I will take that even a bit further ... tell them that you love them & why you do.  Death comes in the blink of an eye & more often than not we find ourselves experiencing deep regret that we never told these people how much they meant to us.  Someone recently wrote to tell me that when her mother would call her she would roll her eyes & think "Good grief, she's calling again!"  She says that now she would give anything to pick up the phone & hear her mother's voice on the other end of the line.      

Monday, August 22, 2011

Giveaway at Hand Quilting

Violette at Hand Quilting is having a fantastic giveaway!  This giveaway is open to both new & established followers.  You will receive a fat quarter of each fabric available in the Canterbury Collection by Connecting Threads, Inc.  Beautiful fabrics!  This giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. CST on August 31.  If you decide you want to be included for a chance to win these beautiful fat quarters, please be sure to mention you heard about it here because then I will get an additional entry   : )

Yikes!!!

Double yikes actually.  I just spent at least half an hour working on this post & then went to backspace or something & everything disappeared.  Tried everything I know of to get it back but of course couldn't.


I uttered the initial yikes because as you can see my blog design is different.  I decided to play around with the design tabs this morning & have now learned not to play around with something I know nothing about.  I'm not happy with this design but it appears I'm stuck with it until I can either get some help or figure out on my own what I've done.  Sigh!

The only thing I intended to do with my blog this morning was to add a link for the Alzheimer's Association to my sidebar.  I was at least successful in that regard.  All I ever knew about Alzheimer's is that it robs older people of their memories.  It turns out it's a lot more serious than that.  

The reason I have been researching this disease is back about 20 years ago we lost contact with a family member.  The whole story is very long so I will not elaborate on it.  My husband & I have tried to find this person via the internet over the years but have always hit a dead end.  For some reason the weekend before last we decided to search again & just stumbled upon the right website at the right time & there she was listed with several other family members.  Her phone number had been disconnected but we were able to make contact with one of the other family members.

We had always envisioned the day we would find her & have a happy reunion!  Unfortunately she is living in a nursing home.  She has severe Alzheimer's disease.  She has no memories whatsoever.  She knows no one.  She can't even take care of her own personal needs.

My heart is breaking.  This woman would've given you the shirt off her back if you asked for it.  She was kind, loving, & fun to be around.  I never heard her speak a bad word about anyone.  She treasured her family.  She treasured me & my husband as well.  She was always good to me.  She always treated me with love & respect.  

Although we are happy to have made contact with the other family members, not being able to reconnect with this woman is tragic on so many levels.  

Take a moment to click on the link on my sidebar to learn more about this disease.  Although the outcome is not certain, there are things you can do to try to prevent Alzheimer's.  There are definitely things you can do to slow the progression if you have been diagnosed with it.  Please take care of yourself & your loved ones.                

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Morning

"Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget all the good things He does for me.
He forgives all my sins & heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death & crowns me with love & tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle's!
Psalm 103:1-5

I mentioned in Friday's post that last week had been "one of those weeks."  It seemed to me that if something could go wrong, it did.  I found myself focusing on all these bad things.  Of course when you start to do this there is kind of a domino effect.  I would think about something bad that had just happened.  Then I would remember something bad that happened a few weeks ago.  Before I knew it, I was dwelling on things that happened 30 or more years ago.  

I certainly know better than to dwell on the negative like this.  We all know better than that.  However, sometimes the bad things seem to fall on us as if some unseen entity is sprinkling them out of a big salt shaker.  You can see the person 2 spaces ahead of you in line get a little sprinkling of "salt."  Then it's the next person's turn & they also get a little sprinkling of "salt."  Then it's your turn & uh-oh!  The top of the salt shaker comes off & the "salt" buries you!  

I felt this way last week.  There were the usual health issues, neighbor issues, family issues, yard work/gardening issues, driveway issues, & other issues that kind of revolve in my life like planets around the sun, but this past week they all seemed to jostle for attention at the same time.  Then something in particular happened that my husband & I have been wanting to happen for a long, long time.  This thing should've brought us a lot of joy & in many ways did, but in other ways it brought a lot of heartache.  

In looking back I can see it was a very difficult week filled with many difficult things.  However, I can also see where focusing on these difficult things made me momentarily blind to the many blessings I have.  Blessings such as a roof over my head & walls to protect me from the elements, central air conditioning to keep me comfortable in the miserable heat of summer, plenty of good food in my kitchen with which to nourish myself, clothes to wear, good friends, & an amazing husband who has discovered all my faults over the past 35 years of marriage & loves me anyway.  I have eyes that can see & ears that can hear.  I can walk & talk & go to the bathroom without needing help.  I have an adequate amount of intelligence to get me through life.  I know God.  My sins are forgiven & there is a place prepared for me in heaven when my earthly life ends.

Knowing these things does not make the bad things go away.  It does, however, put them in perspective.       

Friday, August 19, 2011

One of Those Weeks - & A Late Weight Loss Update #13

I can't believe it is Friday night!  It's been one of those weeks.  Good things, bad things, oh my!  But I have survived it   : )

First another pound has mysteriously vanished as of Wednesday.  I'll consider that good news   : )   Will definitely be staying on maintenance for a longer period of time with the planned visit to the New England area on the horizon.

The mower was returned to us & I've been mowing what seems like non-stop since its arrival on Tuesday.  It still sounds like a hot rod & kicks out a flame once in a while but I was told there's nothing to fear.  The mowing has seemed like it's non-stop because I've had to double mow the entire yard because of the grass/wheat/weeds having grown so high while the mower was in the shop.  I told John that if no one buys our house & we end up having to stay here (please God, no!!!) we've got to look into letting the grass grow to be harvested for hay just like the land out back.  I also suggested that if the house does sell (please God, please!!!) the new house we buy will need to have postage stamp yard.  Okay ... maybe not that small but double mowing 6 acres is enough to put all kinds of thoughts in your head!

On Tuesday I posted a photo of my second try at my cross stitch needleroll project.  I wasn't happy with the way the first stitching looked so I took it all out & started again.  Since posting Tuesday's photo I finished that top row of 6 motifs & then stitched a row of little motifs across the bottom.  It was only then that I discovered that yikes!  I used the wrong color of floss for the flowers in that top row!!!  I didn't notice that there were 2 different colors of red!  Sigh!  Took out that whole row ... again ... & as you can see I'm beginning my third try.  I'm nothing if not persistent   : )      


Now that the mowing is done I can get busy crafting again.  I have quite a few projects in the works that need to get done.  That is my weekend plan   : )
 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mower Update

Good morning!

I thought I would give you an update on our riding mower saga since I mentioned it in my post this past Saturday.  The last word we were given by the Lowes extended warranty people was that Margaret, their contact at the service center, told them that our mower was going to be worked on that week (which was last week) & that she would call us that week with an update.  No call came so yesterday I called Lowes again to tell them of our displeasure & to ask them to call again to see what was going on.  They put me on hold & transferred me to another department where someone named Erica took my call.  I explained the story to her & asked her to call & see what the problem was.  Erica called & spoke with Margaret & then came back & informed me that Margaret said we were #5 in line & our mower would be worked on this week!  Can you believe that!  I told her no way!  I said this was the same story that Margaret told them last week ... that our mower would be worked on then ... & now here she is telling them the same story!  I told Erica that I wanted the service center to return our mower & for her to schedule with another service center for repairs.  Erica didn't seem to comprehend that Margaret had flat out lied about starting work on our mower last week & why in the world should we trust that the work would be done this week!  She indicated that if we scheduled with another service center it could take even longer to get our mower repaired.  I am totally useless as far as confrontations go so I said "please hold ... I'm going to put my husband on the line."  John told her this service center had lied about working on the mower last week, they had lied about the work they did the last time we had problems with the mower, & he wanted our mower returned.  He said we could at least mow our 6 acres of overgrown lawn & that when we finished we would contact Lowes again to be set up with a different service center.  Erica told him that at this time of year service centers are swamped with mower repairs & there's always a backlog for them to take care of.  Honestly ... how many mowers could they possibly have that they would back up for over a month before they could get to them!  All these people do is service mowers!  Unless it's a mom & pop operation with Margaret answering phones & her hubby being the one & only person to work on the mowers, there's no way things could back up like that!  Grrrrrr!  After Erica agreed to return our mower to us, not even 15 minutes went by when the phone rang & it was Margaret in this sweet sing-song voice telling me that our mower would be delivered today.  I merely thanked her for the information.

And get this!  I asked the first Lowes representative if they would give me an address so I could write a letter of complaint about this service center.  I told him that our experience with this company now & in the past shows them to be dishonest & irresponsible & I think that Lowes should look into this.  I was told that there is no address I can write to!  I was so shocked by that answer that I couldn't even say "give me your supervisor" or anything!  No address indeed!  Grrrrr!

I anticipate mowing today ... blah ... lol!  But it has to be done.  At least the weather will be a bit cooler today ... 85 rather than in the 90s.  Our gravel driveway has been holding up well since we had it re-graveled at the start of summer.  Unfortunately I think the tall grass has been keeping the rainwater from soaking into the ground along the sides of the driveway because we noticed yesterday that ditches have formed on the driveway from the water running down & washing out the gravel.  Sigh!

I hope this doesn't sound like a complaining post.  It's not really.  It's just the way things are here at the farmhouse   : )

I started ... or actually restarted ... a new cross stitch project last night.  It's a Thanksgiving needleroll kit by Shepherd's Bush.  It's not really what you'd call prim (they actually strike me as kind of Victorian) but I always loved these things in my previous cross stitch life & so I looked them up & was overjoyed to see they not only still have them available but there are way more than there were 7 years ago!  It's stitched on 32-count linen.  If you think stitching on 32-count linen is easy, guess again ... lol!  Even with my magnifying daylight lamp my eyes feel like they are crossing along with the stitches   : )   Here is the work I've done thus far.


   
The pictures are a tad blurry I'm afraid.  It's always a surprise to see if my pictures will be clear or blurry.  I'm not sure if it's the camera or me.  Anyway, that piece of linen you see in the frame in the first photo measures 6" across.  The design itself measures 2-3/8" across.

I found my pattern for the doll swap I mentioned yesterday!  I think I'll be able to handle it since there are "real" directions   : )   I'm not sure if she will meet the size requirements though.  I might need to enlarge the pattern.  I will post a photo of her after she is received by my swap partner   : )

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fall? Fall? Is That You?

There are many things that herald the approach of fall.  Here at the farmhouse, flocks of geese passing overhead are an enjoyable herald.


The geese actually pass by during the approach of spring as well as the approach of fall.  We are apparently on their migrating path.  I have always loved seeing ... & hearing ... the geese.  Early in the morning when I wake up I usually lie in bed for a while & look out the window which faces our front yard.  I will usually see at least 1 flock of geese fly by & hear them honking.  It almost gives me the same feeling as seeing the snow fall ... & we all know how I feel about snow   : )

The first time I saw geese was when we were living in North Dakota.  We rented a house at the southern end of town & there was a large field across the street.  For some reason the geese liked to stop there.  There seemed to be hundreds of them.  Then when we moved to the UP of Michigan the geese would make a rest stop on the grounds of the building where my husband worked.  

I always thought it would be a good thing to make a flying geese quilt.  I still think that's a good idea & one of these days I'm definitely going to make one.  I should probably first finish the other 7 or 9 quilts or however many it is that have been waiting for binding for the past 7 years or so ... lol!  For those of you who don't know what a flying geese pattern looks like, it traditionally follows this layout although there are several other pattern variations.  I like the traditional.  Mine will be scrappy.  I also like scrappy   : )  

  
And speaking of crafts ... yesterday I worked on my ornaments for the Christmas ornament exchange.  I just have to put on some finishing touches & then I can mail them out   : )   On Saturday night I worked on my cross stitch sampler but I have pretty much decided to put a stop to doing this particular design.  Here is the work I've done thus far.


Can you guess why I've decided to stop?  It's because of the coloring.  This pattern was designed back in the mid 80s.  See all those mid-80s country colors?  I hate them!  I gathered the skeins of floss called for in the pattern & they looked fine in my hand but when I started stitching I thought "uh-oh."  So I decided I would just start the project again using darker, more prim colors.  Last night I sat underneath my daylight lamp with all my floss & chose the colors I thought would work.  However, my heart just isn't in it.  This is one of those "it was a good idea, but" projects.

Today I have to find a doll pattern to start working on.  I signed up to be in a Kindred Spirit Doll Swap that Amy is hostessing over at Bumble Bee Lane.  I received my assigned person's information this morning.  This is going to be a bit difficult for me because this person's #1 choice is a type of doll that I have never made before.  Well, if nothing else I know whose doll patterns to avoid ... lol!  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Morning

"Charm is deceptive, & beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Proverbs 31:30

Have you ever known ... or met ... someone whom society considers beautiful?  If so, were they truly beautiful?

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  My husband tells me every day how beautiful I look.  I know I'm not what anyone else would ever consider physically beautiful but to him I am.  He also thinks I'm a beautiful person on the inside.  What a blessing it is to be married to a man who loves me & sees me like this after 35 years of marriage.  The "beautiful inside" part means even more to me than the physical aspect.    

There was a girl in my high school who looked exactly ... & I do mean exactly ... like Raquel Welch.  People were literally dumbstruck when they would see her.  I had a guy friend who just happened to be friends with this girl.  I was a senior at the time & they were both juniors.  One day my friend spotted Arlene talking with some of her friends in the hallway & he said "There's Arlene!  Come with me ... I'll introduce you!"  We walked over to  her & my friend said "Arlene, this is my friend Shirlee."  I smiled & said hello.  Arlene in turn looked me up & down, forced herself to say hello, & then immediately turned & walked away.  She didn't even try to hide her disgust that my friend actually thought she might want to meet me.  I know that "disgust" probably sounds a tad exaggerated but I can't think of any other way to describe it.  I was stunned ... not by her physical beauty but by the immense ugliness she projected.

I've met other physically beautiful people in my lifetime.  I've rarely met one who also possessed inner beauty.  

I've also known people whom society would consider homely or even ugly.  There was a girl in my middle school who was a year ahead of me.  One of her legs was shorter than the other so she wore a brace & she hobbled when she walked.  Her hair was dark, short & curly, she was overweight, she wore glasses, & her clothes looked like either hand-me-downs or as if they had been made from someone else's discarded clothing.  Many of the kids in school made fun of her.  Others totally ignored her.  She was, however, the kindest, sweetest, funniest, most thoughtful person you would ever want to meet.  She had many interests & she was always smiling.  I was proud to have her as a friend.  Her inner beauty shone like the sun.

There is so much focus on physical beauty now-a-days.  It is difficult to find a celebrity who hasn't had some kind of plastic surgery.  Magazines airbrush photos to make their bodies appear even thinner than they already are.  I'm not "into" celebrities.  I don't know who Kim Kardashian is or why her opinions appear to be so highly valued.  I don't understand why anyone cares what Pippa Middleton is doing.  I especially don't understand how people can look at someone ... like Cher for instance ... & talk about how beautiful she is & how good she looks for her age when even she herself admits that her looks & body were purchased at the plastic surgeon's office. 

Beauty, however, oftentimes doesn't just relate to physical appearance or a person's inner self.  A person is sometimes viewed as beautiful because of the clothes they wear, the jewelry they have, the home they live in, or the car they drive.  Finding beauty in a person because of the possessions they've accumulated or the line of work they are in is sad.  Unfortunately I have known some people like this.  While talking with them they will refer to a mutual friend or family member & berate them for their taste in clothes, the way they decorate their home, the furniture they buy, the jewelry they wear, the books they choose to read, etc.  I will usually say something like "Well, everyone likes different things."  Sometimes if I'm feeling especially rowdy I will say "Well, I'm sure there are probably things you & I like & do that other people think are weird."  That always gets me "the look" ... lol!   

The point is that all this focus on things like career advancement & education & possessions & beauty is, in the long run, a gigantic waste of time.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for the best but God does not judge us on how we look, the things we've accumulated, or which rung of the job ladder we've reached.  In the end there will be no difference between us & the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, Bill Gates, or a beauty queen.  We all eat, sleep, brush our teeth, & put on our pants one leg at a time.  What will matter is the way we've lived our lives ... the kindness we've shown to others, the help we've provided to those in need, the fact that we've never knowingly cheated anyone or taken credit for someone else's accomplishment.  Most important will be our love for God & our attempt to live our lives as He wants us to live them so that others may see Him in us & come to know Him through us.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Always Learning Something New

It's been a not-so-great couple of days ... more so mentally than physically.  I've been feeling really down & so I've been trying to keep myself busy.  I did finish stitching the second pumpkins pinkeep I was working on.  I have also been making progress with my ornaments for the Christmas ornament exchange I'm hostessing.  On Thursday I decided to start a new cross stitch project but ran into a snag or two, asked for help from an online group & then set it aside.  Last night in it's place I decided to work on a small alphabet sampler.  When I decide to work on a project, whatever it is, I am extremely careful (anal) about it.  With cross stitch I take my time to make sure none of my threads get twisted & that the back of my piece looks as good as the front.  With this alphabet sampler I was careful as always & checked the back at various times to make sure it looked okay but still, when I was just about finished with a border row I checked the back & there was a big knot on about the 30th stitch.  I was on the 90th.  I will need to take out those stitches & redo them but I decided to leave them as they are for now & start on the main sampler design because I need to do a bit of tweaking with the original design.  This will include stitching the date as 2011 instead of 1986 & replacing the designer's initials with my own.

   
I have always thought that samplers were a way for a young girl to practice her stitches & learn her letters/numbers.  I never thought there was any more to it than that.  I do remember seeing paintings & photographs of grown women sitting & stitching samplers but I never really thought much about it.  Certainly they knew their letters & numbers & their stitching was undoubtedly perfected in their youth.  I guess I just felt they were "making something pretty" to decorate their homes or to give as gifts.  I'm sure many of them were.  However, this morning I discovered something else about this art form which appears to be this ...

The motifs on a sampler can actually mean something!  When a woman stitched a sampler, it could tell the story of where she was born, where she has lived, if she's been married or not, if she has any children, if there were any deaths in her family, etc.  A sampler could also represent things that were important to her ... her faith for example ... or it could represent qualities she wanted to have in her own life (hope, health, or wisdom).  This discovery has just about floored me!  How could I have been involved with crafting for almost all my life & spend 57 years on this earth without ever knowing this!  It's a pretty cool discovery   : )

I am looking out the window right now at our front yard which looks like a wheat field.  There is, in fact, red wheat growing amongst the grass & there are weeds "as high as an elephant's eye."  Well, maybe not that high but definitely as high as an elephant's knees!  It's been 3-1/2 weeks since our riding mower went into the shop.  I was mowing & John came outside to give me a bottle of water.  I drove over toward him & turned off the mower.  When I turned it off he said a large flame shot out of the front of the mower.  That didn't sound good.  We opened the mower hood & found what appeared to be a cracked muffler.  I made several calls & found out the flame was being caused by the mower backfiring & it wasn't dangerous so I finished mowing.  Then I called Lowes (where we bought the mower along with a 3-year extended warrant, thank goodness) & scheduled with them for repair.  They contacted a service center in Lexington (closest one) & 2 days later they came & took away the mower.  After 2 weeks I called Lowes to tell them we had not heard anything from the service center & to inquire on the status of our mower.  I told them our grass is getting pretty high.  They put me on hold & called the service center who told them they hadn't even touched the mower yet!  Grrrrr!!!  This happened the last time we needed service as well.  Lowes offered to have the mower transferred to another service center & we told them we thought that was a good idea.  This was last Friday (8/5) & they said they wouldn't be able to get things scheduled until Monday.  Wouldn't you know it ... on Monday they called & said "The service center said they will be working on your mower this week!  Margaret will give you a call to let you know the status."  Here it is Saturday & Margaret has not called.  We can't wait much longer.  I'm going to have to try to find a mower to rent or find someone to pay to do the mowing or we're going to need a combine.

Maybe I should stitch a sampler with a motif of the service center logo with a big red circle around it with a line through it.  Better yet, the state of Kentucky with a big red circle around it with a line through it.  Sigh!  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Weight Loss Update #12

I lost another pound this past week even though I continue to be on maintenance.  Not that I'm complaining mind you ... lol!  It's just really weird!  I should be getting back on the diet in another 2 weeks.  However, since John & I are planning our trip up north next month I'm thinking I should probably continue this maintenance phase until we return from that.

I woke up at 5 a.m. & what a blessing that was!  Really!  I have always been an early morning person.  When I was in high school I used to get up at 5 a.m. (which was about an hour & a half before I needed to get up) & go make myself a cup of hot chocolate & some thick to-die-for toast made from the to-die-for homemade bread my dad baked every weekend.  Thus began my carb addiction I guess   : )   I would then go into the livingroom.  The couch sat across from the big picture window that faced the street.  I would sit there & watch the snow fall & stuff myself with homemade bread toast while watching the farm report on TV & then "Music with Morgan."  And I wondered why I wasn't one of the "popular girls" ... lol!  But honestly, you can't imagine how wonderful my dad's bread was.  He used to be a baker on ship in the Merchant Marine during WWII.

When John was working he would always set the alarm for 4 or 5 a.m. because he liked to get to the office early to beat the traffic.  I would get up with him & start my day as well.  I just love the peace & quiet of the early morning.  There is something very special about it   : )            

I have actually noticed a bit of fall recently peeking its way through the miserable summer season.  The cicadas have been giving an afternoon/evening concert now for the past few days.  Oh, the joy in the anticipation of the approaching fall & winter seasons!!!  Since we turned the calendar page to August, every morning John gets up, looks at me & says "One day closer to fall!"  We hate-hate-hate hot weather.  It comes pretty early here in central Kentucky & stays much longer than it does in the rest of the country.  Blah!

Today's plans include a bit of crafting, a bit of cleaning, & a bit of sorting out.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Amish Comparisons (not for the faint of heart)

I did finally get to sleep last night ... this morning actually ... after taking some sleeping medication.  It strikes me as more than a bit odd that I have been so exhausted the past few weeks that I have slept 8-9 hours a night & then 2-4 hours in a nap or two during the day, yet all day yesterday, all last night, & all day today I can't sleep.  I didn't do much of anything today except feel tired.  When I couldn't nap I decided to continue reading a book I started reading during my brief hospital stay 2 weeks or so ago ... a book about Amish life called Plain & Simple.

The woman who wrote this book, Sue Bender, actually went to live with Amish families for a while.  She took stock of her own life, observed theirs, & apparently came away having learned something meaningful.  I have no idea what that thing is at this time since I haven't yet finished the book.

Many times when people talk about the "good" in Amish life there is always at least one person who seems to be bent on pointing out that there is no way that any of us would really give up our lives to become Amish.  This always irks me a bit.  They point out the hard work involved (cleaning the house, cooking the meals, tending the garden).  So?  They point out having to live without "comforts" like TV, computers, & automobiles.  So?  There are numerous things one would have to "give up" to become Amish but I believe that the life you would receive in return for doing so would be a great treasure.  I think it would be, if I may use this as an example, like the "hidden treasure" Jesus talks about in Matthew 13.  A man found a hidden treasure in a field.  When he found it, he hid it again & then in his joy went & sold all he had & bought the field.


Ms. Bender writes about living with her first Amish family & how she watched the women in this family ...

 "...marveling at their ability to be relaxed as they worked & to stay focused on one thing at a time."  

"No one was rushed." 

"The women moved through the day unhurried.  There was no rushing to finish [one thing] so they could get on to the 'important things.'  For them, it was all important." 

I think a lot of us have trouble staying focused on one thing at a time.  I know that I will be performing one task but thinking about several others that need to be done when that task is completed.  Once in a while I find myself feeling content & at peace.  I have to confess that those times tend to be few & far between.  

When I decided to take a break from reading I went into the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea.  I glanced into my diningroom & thought it wasn't any wonder why feeling peace & contentment is so rare for me!  To relax as I work & stay focused on one thing?  To not feel rushed?

Following are a few photos of my diningroom exactly as it has been looking for the past several weeks/months.  These photos, if nothing else, will make you feel proud of your own home.

Photo #1 - dining table & hutch


On this dining table are the following ... 2 magazines I haven't read yet, several magazines I have read but as yet haven't decided to keep or toss,  numerous doctor/medication receipts that I need to submit to insurance, a map for plodding our course to Pennsylvania & Maine next month, the beginning of my ornament exchange project, 2 ornament/bowl filler patterns I have traced out to start making, CCS stuff that needs to be put away someplace, a list of CCS design ideas, note paper to put back where it belongs, a list of people to call (plumber, gutter repair man), my camera with pictures to download, & of course my laptop.

Note the stuff lying on the hutch, in particular the brown envelopes at the one edge.  This is mail that is postmarked July 8 & July 11.  It's been lying there all this time without being opened.  There are more CCS supplies that need to be put who-knows-where & the dolls I got from Olde Lady Morgan that I took a photo of to share with you & there they've been sitting ever since.  There at the far right of the photo you can see the trencher I worked so hard to try to clean several weeks ago but haven't oiled yet.

Photo #2 - candy & other sweets

   
When I started my diet however many weeks ago it was ... 12 I think? ... I pulled these goodies out of the pantry to send to my aunt who has a sweet tooth.  They have been sitting here all this time.

Photo #3 - more of the table, more of the hutch, & a corner of the room
  

I've already inventoried the hutch & the table but what's in the corner?  A bag of CCS supplies purchased a few weeks ago that ... yes ... needs to be put away someplace, magazines (some looked at, some not), a pail & mystery item I bought before Memorial Day waiting to be put someplace, a pitcher that needs to be placed inside that little door you see in the hutch to the left (under the unopened mail), more items purchased from Olde Lady Morgan that need to be put someplace, diet food my doctor in Tennessee insisted I purchase but I never had any intention of using, & another view of the large trencher.

Photo #4 - another view of the corner
  

Another view of this particular corner showing a box of items earmarked for a yard sale which has been there for about a month now.

Photo #5 - soft drinks & dowels


A pastor who was very kind to us when we first moved here ... a man who truly tries to live as Jesus lived ... loves a particular soft drink you can only find in Tennessee.  In March (yes, March) when I went to Knoxville to see my doctor I asked him if he would like me to bring some of these soft drinks back for him.  He said sure!  I did ... & here they've sat for the past 5 months.  I've emailed him a couple times to tell him I still had them & would stop by the church to drop them off as soon as I could.  I feel so bad that they are still here.  There is a crock with the rolling pins in it & also in it you will see some dowels.  I bought these last month to make little "stops" for the gutter drains so they wouldn't blow into the landscaped areas during storms.

Okay ... there are several reasons why things are this bad (my whacked-out hormones not being the least of them) ... but is it any wonder I am not at peace?  Is it any wonder I am not content?  Is it any wonder I can't relax?  Is it any wonder I can't focus on just one thing?  Is it any wonder I feel rushed?  Who can be calm in these surroundings?  And this is just the diningroom!  

Believe it or not, I used to be a very organized person.  If anyone from my past were to see my house like this, they wouldn't believe it.  

I'm not showing all these photos & giving you an inventory of what they show for any particular reason other than to say that this is why I am missing the calmness, peace, & contentment that the Amish have.  You don't have to be Amish to have calmness, peace, & contentment in your life ... but you do need to view things a bit differently.  You do need to stop thinking about the multitude of things you have to do & take things just one step at a time.  As I mentioned on Sunday when quoting Joyce Meyer, "enjoy where you are at on the way to where you are going."

Maybe tomorrow, if I'm not too tired, I'll put that pitcher in the hutch & maybe open that mail   : )   

I'm Tired : (

For some reason I can't sleep today/tonight.  I have mentioned in a couple of posts recently that I have been tired all the time ... sleeping 8-9 hours a night & then ending up taking a nap during the day, sometimes two naps, for an hour or two.  There was a point earlier this afternoon (I guess I should say yesterday afternoon since it is now a new day) when I felt so tired & I went to lie down, snuggled up in my blankie & buried my head in my pillow, & I couldn't sleep.  I usually go to bed about 10:30.  Tonight (last night) I was stitching & the next thing I knew it was 12:30.  I was surprised at the late hour.  I yawned & stretched & went to bed anticipating sweet dreams but instead I felt wired as if I had spent the day existing on nothing but drinks containing high amounts of caffeine.  I finally decided to get up.

I know there's a lot on my mind lately but I'm not focused on anything in particular right now so that's not the problem.  These things just happen sometimes.  It's a real bother when they do because I know I'll be a zombie tomorrow/later today   : (   I remember back in my younger days ... my 20s & 30s & early 40s even.  I used to be able to stay up all night & work on craft projects or write letters or do whatever else I felt I had to stay up all night to do (baking cookies at Christmastime was a yearly all-nighter) & never miss a beat the next day.  Then suddenly the day came when missing a night's sleep was not a good thing   : (

I tried to post a comment on one of my posts several times today without any luck.  Therefore I will make mention here that someone has informed me that the Blackbird Designs CCS pattern chart I posted about yesterday ... Winter Delivery ... is an old chart that is no longer in print.  The only way to get this chart is to buy it on the secondary market.  No one has it for sale right now so I will just watch for it.  If nothing else I will try to enlarge the photo & work the pattern directly from that.

I think I'll get myself a drink of water & attempt to sleep again ... this time in the recliner.  Maybe a "change of scenery" will work some magic for me   : )      

Monday, August 8, 2011

Giveaways at The Wooly Red Rug & Raggedy Creations

Laurie at The Wooly Red Rug is having a giveaway for some gorgeous hand-dyed wool, some Gentle Arts Simply Wool threads, & several other goodies!

  
Felicia at Raggedy Creations is also having a giveaway for this beautiful pumpkin penny rug!


Fall giveaways are definitely in the air   : )

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Does Anyone Know Where I Can Get This Blackbird Designs Chart?


I found this finished project on a new blog I joined today.  Unfortunately there does not seem to be a way to leave a comment on this blog & I cannot find any contact information for the blog owner.  I fell in love with this Blackbird Designs project she stitched from a chart titled Winter Delivery.  I've spent a lot of time on Google trying to find it without any luck.  Does anyone know where I can get this chart?

Sunday Morning

"Be patient & trust the Lord...."
Psalm 37:7

I am mentally in a weird place right now.  There are several things that are going to be happening in my life within the next 6 months or so.  I'm excited about them but I've got this "impatience thing" going on.  Impatience tends to put a damper on the here & now.

I believe that Joyce Meyer has been blessed with amazing insight.  For those of you who don't know who Joyce Meyer is, she is a Christian author, speaker & teacher.  She shares personal experiences with such candor that anyone who hears her speak or reads her books sees her as being a "real person" ... someone they can relate to.

Joyce speaks a lot about joy.  So why isn't the quote I chose today about joy?  Read on   : )   One of the things Joyce tries to get people to understand is that we need to enjoy our everyday lives.  She is often quoted as saying that we need to "enjoy where we are on the way to where we are going."  In fact, one of her books has that title (Enjoying Where You Are On The Way To Where You Are Going).  The publisher's description of this book starts out by saying "Are you enjoying every day of your life?  Or do you tell yourself & others that you will find happiness once you have reached a specific goal or position in life?"  I believe this is where patience enters in.  You can't live a joy-filled life if you are dissatisfied with the here & now & constantly longing for that "one day" in the future when you will remodel your kitchen, get wood floors installed in your home, build a new chicken coop, make a new quilt, get a new car, lose weight, visit France, or any number of other things.  It is good to have hope.  It is good to have goals.  However, we shouldn't base our happiness on attaining those things & miss the joy that surrounds us now.  

Take a look around you.  You will find things that bring you joy.  And these things will help you ... & me ... to "be patient & trust the Lord."  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Somnolence

Sigh!  These whacked-out hormones are driving me crazy.  I woke up about an hour ago, had myself a cup of tea, answered my email & read new postings on the blogs I follow & I'm ready to go back to bed.  It doesn't help that we are expecting rain today & it is very gray & overcast outside.  


Pep pills!  Pep pills!  My kingdom for some pep pills!  

That's from Shakespeare, isn't it?  Or was that a horse?  Lol!  

I even "got crazy" this morning & brewed something other than Cinnamon Spice Tea!  Instead I made a cup of Vanilla Hazelnut.  So much for that idea.  I guess I thought it would pep me up.  Maybe if I had dissolved some pep pills in it ... lol!  

Okay ... no more drug talk   : )

It occurred to me this morning thanks to Connie, a fellow CCS-er, that I had mentioned this wonderful CCS shop I found online yesterday but then I didn't give the name of the shop or the link to it!  Duh!  The shop is Stitching Bits & Bobs & they are in Plainwell, Michigan & yes, I looked on Mapquest to see how far away from me Plainwell, Michigan is ... lol!  It's 7 hours away.  7 hours is a drop in the bucket.  Of course with the money I'd spend on gas, a hotel room (it would have to be an overnighter), food, & probably at prim/antique places I'd pass by along the way, I'd be able to buy a whole lot more CCS stuff from the stop if I just stayed home & shopped online.  I guess that answers that   : )

I am now going to vent about dogs or more precisely dog owners.  First let me say that our neighbors are not the friendly sort.  Most of them just keep to themselves.  This really bothered me when we first moved here.  Before we moved in John & I would joke that when we got here the neighbors would probably stop by to welcome us ... bringing us a loaf of still-warm-from-the-oven homemade bread or a chicken or a goat.  We were just being funny with each other but we did kind of expect people to be friendly in a farming community.  That, unfortunately, is not the case ... unless they want something.  One 2 of our neighbors ever stopped by.  One of them was the father of the woman who used to live here.  He stopped by before we moved in.  We had some guys doing some work for us & he came up the driveway one day & asked one of them if he thought we'd mind him cutting the hay on the back of our land & taking it for himself.  That is what he always did while his daughter lived here.  John said we had to "be nice" so when we moved in he went to this guy's house & told him he was welcome to the hay.  The guy never even said thank you.  One day about 2 months later he drove up the driveway, right past the house, & cut the hay.  The next day he came & baled it & took it away.  He didn't even come knock at the door to tell us he was there or to say thanks.  

A year later our neighbor right next door called us over to the fence.  He had seen us out in the yard many times during the year but never so much as waved to us although we always waved to him when we saw him & no, he never waved back.  We just assumed he wasn't looking our way.  Anyway, he calls us over to the fence this one day & tells us he's planning to get the fence repaired & he just wanted us to know that some workers would need to be on our property & would that be okay?  We said sure.  He then mentioned our land in back & our hay.  He told us he wanted to buy more cows & asked that if we weren't going to be grazing animals in back could he graze his cows back there?  He said he had someone coming to cut & bale his hay in a couple weeks & when this person came he would have him come over to our field & do our hay as well. He also said that he would take care of the land back there ... keeping it mowed & cleaned up.  We told him he was welcome to graze his cows back there.  When the father of the woman who used to live here stopped by to see if he could cut our hay & take it away again, we told him no.  We had this conversation with the next door neighbor in early July.  A couple weeks later a man did indeed come & mowed & baled the neighbor's hay but he never touched ours.  Then it was October.  Our hay was extremely overgrown & the neighbor never did buy more cows ... nor did he ever bother to say to us "hey, I've changed my mind ... go ahead & find someone else to take care of your hay."  We had to make a bunch of calls & finally found someone we had to pay to cut down the hay for us but it was useless for cattle by that time so he just left it lying on the ground.  

Now for the dogs.  Last fall this next door neighbor bought 2 dogs.  I don't know what they are ... they kind of look a little like boxers but they have long legs & slim, muscular bodies.  One day we drove up the driveway & there were these 2 dogs jumping all over us.  They were extremely friendly.  We had never seen them before & didn't know who they belonged to.  We hoped someone didn't just drop them off & drive away.  Turns out they belonged to this man next door.  Throughout the fall & winter & spring these dogs have ran loose & for some reason enjoy being in our yard.  They poop all over the place, pee on all the bushes & trees we have planted, & eat our birdseed.  Whenever someone has come to do any work in our yard ... like re-gravel the driveway or something ... the dogs rush over here & jump all over these people.  Yelling at them doesn't make them go away.  We finally bought bird feeders & put them high enough off the ground so the dogs couldn't get at them.  I wanted to tell the neighbor to keep his dogs in his own yard but John said to just let it go.  (John doesn't like to "start trouble.")  We are in a farming community ... there are no leash laws here.  

Okay ... so here it is summer.  The dogs are still running wild.  I had mentioned last month that we had landscaping work done.  The landscaping company charged us a fortune for this & did lousy work, but that's another story.  After the landscaping work was done I purchased new downspout drains & attached them to all the downspouts around the house.  One morning I went out on the porch to see what the weather was like.    What I found were the 2 dogs lying in my newly mulched landscape bed.  Part of the new downspout drain from this area was lying out in the yard a few feet away.  The downspout had literally been torn from the side of the house & pieces of it were lying in the landscape bed & in the yard.  One of the dogs ... or maybe it was both of them ... had dug a big hole in the landscape bed scattering the new mulch & the dirt all over the place.  I was livid!  John happened to drive up at that point (he had gone to the post office) & I told him either he had to see the neighbor about those dogs or I was going over there to see him.  John immediately went over to talk with the neighbor.  He came back & said that the neighbor apologized & said that he was having someone come that next week take care of some storm damage on the side of his house & he would have him come over here to fix our gutter.  This was a month ago.  Our gutter & drain is still lying in the landscape bed where we placed everything & the dogs are still running wild.  

There are other occasions where this neighbor has said he's going to do something & has never followed through with it so I'm not surprised that no one has been here to fix the gutter.  My thoughts are to call someone myself to come fix the gutter (if anyone will return  my calls ... we know how that goes around here) & to buy a gun & go over to this neighbor & tell him that if I ever see his dogs out in my yard again I'm going to shoot them.  I don't know if that's legal but if I give him a warning ... maybe even talk to the sheriff about it first & have him go with me to inform the neighbor of this ... it might be okay.  Like I said, there's no leash laws here so I can't fall back on that. 

Sorry for the long rant but this really irks me.  I hope I don't sound like a dog hater.  I'm not.  I just don't understand how people can let their animals run wild & cause problems for other neighbors (although we seem to be the only ones ... I never see the dogs on anyone else's property except ours) & not care.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Counted Cross Stitch Monkey On My Back : )

I should be getting some chicken breasts in the oven but no, I'm looking at CCS sites, ordering some things, & making yet another post to my blog.  At least this is the only one today ... so far ... lol!  Thankfully the initial cooking of the chicken breasts won't take much time since they will be baked afterward in marinara sauce.  Chicken parmesan today : )

Look!  Look!  I finished stitching the pumpkin pinkeep chart that knocked me off the wagon!


I know what you're thinking ... what is she going to stitch next?  Can you believe another pumpkin pinkeep?  Yep ... another one!  Why?  Tee-hee-hee ... can't tell ya   : )

I found the best online CCS shop today ever!  Unfortunately I found it after I had ordered several charts from another site ... sigh!  I say "unfortunately" because all the stuff at this wonderful shop is currently 20-25% off.  I could've had a nice savings ordering the same things from them.  Ah well, them's the breaks sometimes.

Betty commented on my CCS-themed posting yesterday & said "Does Shirlee's husband hate me for getting her started on this new "old" love?  Is he seeing $$$ signs?"  Believe it or not, he is absolutely thrilled!  He of course takes credit for getting me started with CCS in the first place ... & rightly so ... & he was always pointing out new kits & patterns I might be interested in back in the day.  I may have mentioned this before but he is quite a special guy.  He is very encouraging regarding anything I attempt to do.  When I did a lot of quilting, at Christmastime he would travel around to different fabric shops & buy me a fat quarter of this & a fat quarter of that until I ended up with more fat quarters than ... well, let's just say I have a lot of them   : )   I was the envy of all my quilting friends who stated their husbands wouldn't even drive down the same side of the street as a fabric store yet alone go into one & buy them stuff!  He had been disappointed both times when I gave up doing CCS.  He never warmed up to me knitting or tatting or making bobbin lace or getting a torch & a kiln & making glass beads or any number of other things ... but he has always enjoyed seeing me stitch.  So ... to answer Betty's question ... he is very happy to see me stitching again   : )

I had better go toss those chicken breasts in the oven   : )      

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doctors & Bifocals & Debbie Reynolds : )

I bet there's 3 things that you've never seen joined together ... lol!

Yes, this is my third posting of the day.  You would think that I don't have a life!  Well, in reality I don't ... but don't tell me.  It'll make me feel bad   : )

I realized earlier that I never gave a "report" on my doctor visit yesterday nor on my bifocals saga.  First the bifocals.  I'll make this short & sweet.  I put them on, everything was bowing, I took them off & said "I don't want these ... give me computer glasses."  This is what I told both the eye doctor & the sales person I would do if this happened again.  Unfortunately my usual sales person is on vacation this week so the girl that was subbing for her said she'd give her the message when she returns on Monday.

My visit to the doctor yesterday was rather dismaying.  I kind of hoped she would just give me some kind of pill & I'd be kicking up my heels!  Instead she said my hormones are majorly whacked out right now.  Okay ... that wasn't the exact medical terminology she used but that's what she was saying.  Apparently this has been caused by my previous doctor in Tennessee over-supplementing me.  She said there's nothing she can do except run damage control for the next couple months to try to get all this stuff out of my system & start the supplements from scratch & at much lower doses.  She said I'm probably going to feel lousy for at least another month.  Ah well, it could be worse.  I was actually guessing that she was going to give me some life-threatening diagnosis so another month of being tired all the time ... among other things ... isn't so bad in comparison.

As I mentioned the other day, John & I came to the decision this past weekend that we are going to put this house up for sale & move back up north.  I contacted our RE agent & told her we were looking at listing the house next spring & asked how the market has been doing.  She said the market has been better than it has been in years although most of the homes selling have been smaller ones with less land than we have.  She mentioned that there is the possibility that some kind of exemption connected with either having or selling a home is going to be taken away next year so that might put a dent in home sales.  Her advice for selling was "the sooner the better."  John & I talked about this after dinner.  We really don't want to have to rush around now getting things ready to sell so we are just going to wait until the spring as we had originally planned.  If the house sells, it sells.  If it doesn't, it doesn't.  Next month we are planning a trip to central Pennsylvania & Maine to see if we might want to live in either of those places.  We are originally from Pennsylvania but from the western side.

Enter Debbie Reynolds.  We like to watch biographies & interview shows.  We recently watched an interview with Debbie Reynolds.  It was very interesting & I could share several things with you that were especially interesting but I will spare you more reading than you've already done today on my blog   : )   The main thing I wanted to pass along was something she said about living in her various homes ... 2 of them in particular.  One of them was extremely modern.  She herself said it looked like a post office from the outside.  She said her husband picked it out.  It made him happy so she went along with it.  Her thought was "I don't live outside, I live inside."  Therefore she decorated the inside like she wanted it to be.  She said her "dream house" is an English cottage style home.  However, the one she's living in now is a Spanish design.  She's living there because it's near her children.  She said she's okay with the Spanish design, again stating "I don't live outside, I live inside" & that she decorates the inside like she wants it to be.  She was so content talking about this.  I thought it was pretty amazing for a movie star to not have her "dream home" & to be okay with it.

One final thing.  Look what I made for dinner yesterday!

  
This was the first time I ever had kabobs!  I saw them for sale in the butcher's case at Whole Foods & they looked so good that I had to try them.  Even John enjoyed them!        

Giveaways Arrived & Mysteries Revealed - Part II : )

I just posted Part I of this giveaway posting/mysteries revealed saga which told about Betty's runner-up giveaway items.  In this posting I will tell you about the items sent to Trace.

About a month ago I decided to make a primitive doll.  I have made dolls before but not very many & no primitive ones.  Over the past 2 years or so I have purchased several primitive doll patterns "to make one day."  So ... it's about a month ago & I go to one of the local prim shops where I pick up the most recent issue of a prim magazine.  Inside is a picture & pattern of a small doll & I think "That looks easy!  I am going to make that!"  A couple days later I've purchased some nice muslin for the doll's body & I start tracing out the pattern.  I decide to make 2 dolls with the plans of keeping one & giving the other one away on my blog when I reach the half way point in my dieting.  A Half-Way Giveaway!

Some of you will remember me posting about the total hell this pattern brought into my life.  The directions were ... how shall I put this nicely ... somewhat lacking.  For example, there was a dress pattern.  This dress consisted of a muslin bodice & a printed skirt.  I kid you not ... these are the printed directions for how to make that dress...

Sew the dress.

I couldn't believe it.  When I looked over the rest of the directions, they were similar.  I don't know about you but when I try to teach someone how to do something or write out directions for someone to follow, I make sure I cover all the bases.  Someone who has never picked up a pair of scissors & a yard of muslin in her life would understand how to go about making something that I've designed.  I noticed that the designer had included her email address with the pattern.  I emailed her & took the burden of this "pattern from hell" on myself.  I told her I had never made a prim doll before & had no idea what I was doing.  I apologized for being so dense.  Did she want me to stitch on the traced lines or use a 1/4" seam allowance & cut on the lines?  How was I supposed to attach the arms & legs?  And how in the world do I "sew the dress?"  She responded by telling me she's good at designing but not very good with directions.  No kidding!!!  Don't you think someone at the magazine would've realized that this pattern might be missing some vital information & deem that it needed to be elaborated on just a bit?  Anyway, she tried to tell me how to sew this dress ... "Just sew the top together & cut it down the back & then sew on the skirt & then put it on the doll."  Hello???  How do you keep the dress together?  Why bother sewing on all the traced lines when I then have to cut them open at the neck & arms to put the blasted dress on the doll?  I decided to wing it.

I shamelessly lifted up the dresses of some of the dolls I have on display.  Since my doll's body was already sewn shut where the arms were to go, I stuffed her body & then the legs, attaching them to the inside & then stitching up the bottom of the doll.  I then stuffed the arms & just tacked them to the doll's sides.  I decided to stuff her not too tightly but not too loosely either.  I Googled needle sculpture & found a tutorial showing how to make a nose.  I used someone else's staining directions rather than those provided by the doll's designer.

The dolls were supposed to be angels.  I scrapped that real fast & decided to just make them prim gals.  I traced around one of the dolls in an attempt to make a dress pattern.  I got something I thought would work & did a trial run sewing a dress from some muslin.  I had to make just a few adjustments, thank goodness, & then was ready to make a real dress.

The winning names for my giveaway had already been drawn.  I had emailed the "grand prize winner" to let her know that her giveaway package was going to be a bit late.  I decided to give her the option of letting me send her something else.  She responded saying no, she would be happy to wait for whatever I had initially intended to send.  This actually worked out to her advantage because I was able to adapt the dress to suit her personality!  The "grand prize winner" was Trace whose blog is Granny Trace Scraps & Squares.  She has a "thing" for chickens & I remembered that I had an old piece of material from back in the 90s that had chickens printed on it.  Dug that out & made the dress but something was missing.  The doll needed something ... but what?  I tried to find a little basket she could hold with some miniature eggs in it but had no luck finding those items.  Then I thought maybe I could find a little stuffed chicken or sack of corn she could hold.  Nope, couldn't find those either.  Meanwhile I went ahead & made the dress for the second doll, all the while wondering what I was going to do with Trace's doll.  Finally I decided to wing it (no pun intended) & draw up a little chicken pattern to make a prim chicken for the doll to hold.

Although I didn't take a photo of Trace's things before I mailed them ... same as Betty's ... I did take a photo of the 2 dolls together when I finished them.

  
Trace also received a quilted chicken pinkeep.  She has posted photos on her blog which you can access by clicking on the link above.

I think I will rest from my doll labors for a while.  I know that I will definitely read through patterns in the future before attempting to make dolls again ... lol!