Thursday, August 29, 2013

Heart Surgery Scheduled

"My flesh & my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
& my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26

As I mentioned a while back, there was a possibility that I would need heart surgery.  I was diagnosed with a-fib 10 years ago.  I was lucky in that the first medication they gave me worked well to control the a-fib. There were times when I would go for months, sometimes a couple years, without any major episodes.  Once in a while I would have a few seconds of my heart racing, but these little episodes would end as quickly as they began.  A couple years ago they started happening more often with my heart not only racing but beating irregularly.  My cardiologist at the time told me this was the nature of the beast (his words).  He explained that as I would get older, these breakthrough episodes would happen more often.  After that visit, I had very few breakthrough episodes.  Then earlier this summer they started happening more frequently, ending with me having 3 major a-fib episodes in early July within a 2-week period necessitating 2 ER visits, a visit with a cardiologist, & a referral to a heart specialist ... an electrophysiologist.

During this period of time I was given prescriptions for 3 different heart medications to take along with the one I've been taking for 10 years.  All 3 of these medications caused severe side effects.  The heart specialist also tried increasing the dosage of my usual medication.  Although the dosage I had been taking for the past 10 years did not cause me any adverse side effects, this higher dosage caused Parkinson-like hand tremors.

At my first appointment with the specialist, he talked about the possibility of surgery.  I hoped this would not be the case.  However, when the new medications & the increase in my usual one caused problems, I knew I would not be so lucky.  When I saw him for my followup 2 weeks ago, he said that he had already discussed me with the other specialist in the office.  Their opinion was that based on the problems I've had with the medications, it's in my best interest to have the surgery done now rather than later when I could possibly have an episode that can't be stopped at which point, as I understand it, a pacemaker would be the only option.  He convinced me that the surgery, which should fix the problem permanently ... cure me, if you will ... is better than the pacemaker which is kind of like turning on a light to light up a dark room. The room is still dark, it's just that the light is making it not look dark.  The pacemaker would turn on when I had an a-fib episode & make my heart beat regularly again, but I would still have a-fib.  Both he & the other specialist are in agreement that the Greenfield filter I have, which was placed back in the mid-90s to prevent blood clots from traveling from my legs to my heart, should not pose a problem.  I asked all kinds of questions & he patiently sat & explained everything to me.  

I will be going to hospital in Lexington on September 11 for pre-op stuff, come back home, go back to the hospital on the 12th for the surgery, stay overnight, & if all is well ... as it should be ... come home on the 13th.  He said that I'd have to take it easy for 10-14 days.  He does not anticipate any complications.  By the end of 3 months I will hopefully be able to stop taking my heart medication altogether & never have a-fib again.  I will have to keep taking the blood thinning medication though because of my clotting problems.  

The surgery usually lasts 4-6 hours, not counting the prep & recovery time, but for me it could be longer because of the filter. Poor John is going to be a nervous wreck. He is such a worrier & worries about me all the time.  We have no family to help out, but we are used to that.

I was second guessing myself a few days ago because I hadn't had any a-fib episodes for a couple days.  I was telling myself that maybe the specialist was jumping the gun a bit.  Maybe I didn't really need the surgery right now.  Maybe I could wait & see how things go.  Then 2 nights ago I had another breakthrough episode.  I think it was God's way of telling me "it's time" & I am now feeling confident that I am doing the right thing.  Of course I'm not looking forward to the surgery itself, any pain involved, & the recovery time needed, but if it gets rid of the a-fib permanently, it will be a good thing.

Please do remember me & John in your prayers as well as the specialist & all the OR staff who will be with him during the surgery.  I'd really appreciate it.     

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Just Do It!

When last I left you, I was in a bit of a quandary.  Do I choose to start a new project ... namely a Christmas ornament from a back issue of JCS Ornaments magazine ... or do I work on one of the design ideas floating around in my head.  Needle & thread won out over paper & pencil.

I began by looking through each of the back issues I have.  Every year I do the same thing ... I look through these magazines & put little sticky notes on the pages that have ornaments I think I would like to stitch.  On the sticky notes I write the number of the ornament(s) that called to me.  Without fail, when I look through the magazines again the following year, I wonder what on earth I was thinking when I see some of the designs I picked out.  Had I looked at the magazines in a darkened room?  Had John blindfolded me & told me to go through each one & pick out some ornaments to stitch?  I have no idea, but I always wonder not only why I chose some of the ornaments I did, but why didn't I choose others?  Year after year, round & round it goes.

So there I was ... looking through my back issues, shaking my head as I removed some of last year's sticky notes & added some new ones.  Then it was time for me to decide which ornament I was going to stitch first. After laying out maybe 5 magazines that had one or more ornaments that called to me, I could sense I had a problem.  Do I stitch this one or that one?  No, wait ... what about that one there?  I realized that I could literally spend a good hour or two ... precious stitching time ... looking & re-looking at each ornament, trying to decide which one to start.  I decided this was madness, looked down at the magazine in my hand & told myself "this is the one."

The ornament I chose is from the 2009 issue ... a LHN design called Winter Sampler. I like winter.  I like samplers.  It was a no brainer. Below are 2 photos ... one showing my stitching progress after Day 1, & the second my progress after Day 2.

Here's a scanned photo of the completed ornament as it appears in the magazine. Sorry for the poor quality.  I'll blame it on sectioning off this one ornament from the scanned page.  
Pretty, ain't it   : )

For dinner tonight I decided to make something I've never made before.  Shrimp fried rice.  I love shrimp fried rice.  I love pretty much any kind of fried rice actually. To be honest, I could eat a bowl of plain rice with just some butter, salt & pepper.  I just love rice   : )   I don't often try cooking new things.  John is not the adventurous sort when it comes to food, & if I want to make something I know he won't eat, I usually talk myself out of doing the work involved when it's only going to be me eating whatever it is. However, lately I've really been craving shrimp fried rice, & since none of the so-called Chinese restaurants in Danville (the town that borders the devil's playground) know how to make good fried rice, I decided to give it a try on my own.  I found a great recipe here.   I bought all the ingredients & decided today was the day.  It turned out pretty good considering I tried a new brand of rice which I could have used as a substitute for drywall paste.  I've always used Minute Rice which never, ever sticks to itself.  I can't say that about this rice I decided to try today.  I also used La Choy soy sauce.  The taste was not what I'd call great, but the rice was edible.  The recipe also calls for a teaspoon of salt to be added when cooking the rice with all the other ingredients.  I not only added this teaspoon of salt, I also salted my rice before eating it.  I will confess that I'm a salt-it-before-you-taste-it person.  The La Choy probably also contributed some salt. The next time I make it (using Minute Rice) I will change things up a bit ... less salt, a different soy sauce (any suggestions?), & maybe add some diced carrots & maybe some peas.

I'll be spending tonight putting more stitches in my ornament.  Here's hoping that you will find yourself doing something likewise as pleasant   : )

Sunday, August 25, 2013

... and then there were geese

Things were a bit shaky for a while, but Beulah finally regained her health & is once again able to be outside where she enjoys taking care of her much beloved geese, Lucy & Laverne   : )  
Designer:  Stacy Nash
Design Tweaker:  The Easily Influenced Stitcher
Design:  Christmas Goose Pinkeep (Stacy)
Beulah Feeds the Geese Pinkeep (TEIS)
Fabric:  30 ct Old Salem linen
Floss:  DMC

I really like how this turned out but I think the process of picking a few different floss colors than what Stacy had in mind took longer than the stitching itself.  Sometimes I surprise myself by my patience & sticktoitiveness.  Although it may sometimes appear otherwise, I do not get my jollies by burning trying projects in my kitchen sink   : )
Today I will be choosing a new project.  This is always an exciting time, isn't it?  What will it be, what will it be.  Last night I woke up an hour & a half after I went to bed.  I was dreaming that I was at some sort of party or maybe it was a dance club.  I remember I was spinning around very, very fast, sort of like an ice skater gracefully bent at the waist to one side with one arm curved above her head, but I wasn't wearing ice skates ... I was just kind of suspended in mid-air ... & the song Everybody Have Fun Tonight by Wang Chung was playing.  It that doesn't knock you wide awake, I don't know what does.  I got up, came out to the dining room, & decided to start looking at my past issues of Just Cross Stitch Ornaments to see what kind of stitching trouble I could get into.  I've also been having design ideas roaming through my brain for some time now so I'm torn between designing & stitching my own project vs. choosing an already designed JCS ornament.  I can't even begin to fathom doing both since I am a OOAT stitcher (one at at time).  I know that many of you are blissfully happy having 2 or 3 or even a dozen projects going at the same time.  I would need a long stay in a padded room if I ever attempted that.  

I hope you all have a lovely & blessed Sunday!  I wasn't feeling well yesterday so John & I did not sit out on the front porch a time or two rocking & talking like we usually do on nice days.  I'm looking forward to doing some of that today   : )

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Few Finishes to Share!

I sent several items to my faithful, fabulously flawless finisher Myra a while back but have been neglectful in showing some of them to you.  The ones you haven't seen yet were either destined to be gifts or I just didn't get around to photographing them.  Life sure does get in the way sometimes, doesn't it?  I will remedy this situation now   : )

I stitched this first design as a birthday gift for my dear friend Paula who lives in Portugal.  I am sharing a photograph of both the front & the back of this little cushion because I just love the fabric Myra used for the backing.  It compliments the design so well, don't you think?

 Designer:  Jardin Prive
Design:  Small Red
Fabric:  32 ct Antique White linen
Floss:  Overdyed

The following designs are all Christmas ornaments.  I really should have photographed both the front & back of each one since Myra likewise paired each design with the perfect complimenting fabric.  As I mentioned to someone in an email this morning, if only our foresight were as sharp as our hindsight   : )

Designer:  The Prairie Schooler
(2012 JCS Ornaments issue)
Design:  Partridge in a Pear Tree
Fabric:  Mystery linen
Floss:  DMC

Designer:  Little House Needleworks
Design:  It's Snow Cold
Fabric:  30 ct Tin Roof linen
Floss:  DMC

Designer:  Homespun Elegance
Design:  Jingle Jingle
Fabric:  30 ct Mink linen
Floss:  DMC, WDW, & GAST

Designer:  Homespun Elegance
Design:  Joyous Heart
Fabric:  32 ct Sandstone linen
Floss:  DMC, CC, WDW, & GAST

Designer:  Homespun Elegance
Design:  Festive Redbird
Fabric:  32 ct Sandstone linen
Floss:  DMC, CC, & WDW

Designer:  Homespun Elegance
Design:  All Is Calm
Fabric:  28 ct Amber linen
Floss:  DMC, CC, WDW, GAST

There is one other ornament which I cannot show you yet because it's a gift   : )

Myra finished this next project into a cube for me.  It is my first cube.  She did a marvelous job!

Designer:  Tralala
Design:  Duo Noel
Fabric:  32 ct Lambswool linen
Floss:  DMC

Although I love all the above finishes which Myra did for me, this final finish I am going to share with you is the "piece de resistance" as far as I am concerned   : )   I made mention of my Frosty project the other day in my August IHSW Report, Part II posting.  It wasn't until I stitched Frosty that I truly understood the meaning of the words "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  After finishing Frosty, he met with disaster & I was afraid he would be lost forever.  I put him out of sight & tried not to think about him, but we had gone through so much together. I couldn't get him off my mind.  One day I decided to ask Myra if she thought she could salvage him for me.  She told me to send him her way & she would see if she could rescue him.  Her decision?  She could!  

I had no idea what Myra was going to do with Frosty.  I of course knew that whatever she did would be perfect, but not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine she would come up with a finish like this!

Designer:  With Thy Needle & Thread
Design:  January Word Play
Fabric:  36 ct Abecedarian linen
Floss:  GAST

If you have a good eye, you may have noticed that my design is different than what the designer intended   : )   I really don't care much for designs that are geared toward a certain month.  Why in the world would I want to put Frosty on display only in January???  He's too wonderful for just a one-month showing!  I therefore did a bit of redesigning ... removed the word January & replaced it with the word icicles.  This makes it perfect to have on display all winter! There are places where I had to move a stitch or two or three up or down or over a space or two or three to make my redesign look pleasing.  Thankfully it all worked out in the end.  All was, is, & will continue to be right with the world   : ) 

You can't actually tell what Myra did here, but this is not something where she just took the design, sewed a border around it, put a backing on it, stuffed it with fiberfill, & stitched up the opening.  Not Myra!  What you are looking at is actually a kind of pillow slip!  She made a small stuffed pillow, then made Frosty into a pillow slip which can be removed so that I can replace him with other Word Plays if the mood strikes me. Look at the cute mittens she embroidered on the back seam! 

If you traveled along with me on my Frosty stitching journey, you well know that the following Weird Al Yankovic lyrics from his song "One More Minute" clearly indicate my feelings about stitching another WTN&T Word Play design.

"I'd rather have my blood sucked out by leeches,
Shove an ice pick under a toenail or two.
I'd rather clean all the bathrooms
in Grand Central Station with my tongue..."
Than spend one more minute ever stitching another WTN&T Word Play design again!

My, but didn't Myra do a beautiful job ... not only on Frosty but on all her beautiful finishes???  Come on followers ... let's give her a big round of applause!
Thank you, my friend!  I so appreciate you!

Here is what the designer intended the January Word Play to look like.
I will never stitch this chart again (once was more than enough), so I am going to offer it to one of my followers.  If you would like a chance to win this chart, just leave a comment telling me so.  You have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Saturday, August 31, to tell me you'd like a chance to win the chart.  I will draw a name on Sunday, September 1.  

Well, I was just wondering what I would be doing after publishing this post when the phone rang.  It was the realtor calling to make an appointment for someone to come look at the house tomorrow morning.  Looks like I'll be doing some cleaning & straightening up today   : )

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

You Knew I Was Gonna Do This, Right?

After responding to various comments on my last post, saying that I had decided to just go with the flow & stitch the Frankenstein's Monster's Daughter Feeds the Geese Pinkeep using the DMC colors suggested by the designer, I sat down last night to start stitching her dress & just couldn't do it.  I just couldn't get past poor Beulah's green skin.  I just couldn't leave it alone.  The girl deserves to look healthy!  I got up & went to the dining room, took my floss boxes out of the pie safe (yes, I keep stitching stash in my dining room pie safe), & began looking for a floss color that would make for a nicer skin tone.  This was difficult.  The color of the linen I chose to use for the design is sort of a skin tone in itself.

While I was trying to find a nice skin tone, I noticed that there was something about the dress color I didn't like.  The designer chose DMC 844, Beaver Gray.  I thought the dress should have more of a blue cast to it.  Then I noticed that the suggested color to use for stitching the legs & feet of the geese was ... prepare yourself ... the same color suggested for Beulah's skin!  Geese with avocado green legs & feet.  I don't think so.

It occurred to me that perhaps there are some designer's, like Beulah's, who do their design work in the night.  This could explain their color choices.  I stood at my dining room table with my floss boxes in front of me, along with my DMC Needlework Threads Color Card, which is totally useless by the way (I'll explain why later), & under the light of the chandelier I went through baggie after baggie after baggie & pulled what I thought were the perfect flesh, dress, & goose leg/foot colors for the project.  I smiled the smile of a job well done, went to my stitching chair, turned on my daylight magnifying light, picked up my needle, took the skein of floss I chose for the dress color, & stared.  Where did this lovely shade of dark cornflower blue come from?  I did not pick this color of floss for Beulah's dress!  I picked a much more dirty, worn out looking gray/blue/brown shade!  This is when I realized that some designers must do their design work at night. I have always known that if you look at a color by lamplight, it can look totally different than it does in natural light.  This explained why the designer's choice of flesh color looked like a great skin color when I was filing it back into its baggie, but avocado green when I was stitching her face, neck, & chest area.  If I had wanted to display this project in nothing but lamplight, all would've been well with the world.  Once the light of day would shine upon it, however, it would be transformed into something no eye should see.

I knew what I had to do.  I called for John to bring me my floss boxes & I sat in my stitching chair, underneath my daylight magnifying light, & went through every baggie to find true flesh, dress, & goose leg/foot colors.  I think I have succeeded.  The flesh color is still iffy because of the linen color so I will stitch that last.  Hopefully I will have found just the perfect skin tone for Beulah.

Currently See-Through Beulah
Oh dear, the dress is looking rather prom like here, & deceptively light blue gray.  Beulah, Beulah, Beulah ... you are going to drive me to drink.

Regarding my comment about the total uselessness of my DMC Needlework Threads Color Card, the card I have simply consists of photographs of all the DMC floss colors available at the time of the card's production.  It is obvious that the photographer hired by DMC did not use natural light when taking these photographs. All the colors I tried to match from card to skein looked the same underneath the light of my dining room chandelier, but completely different underneath my daylight magnifying light.  As my second grade teacher, Sister Bernadette, would say when she became exasperated with a student, "God, give me strength!"  Looking back, I recall having a DMC Needlework Threads Color Card in my stitching life #2 that consisted of actual floss wound into it, not photographs of the floss.  I would have sold that when I mistakenly thought I would never cross stitch again.  I hope whoever has it values it as the treasure that it is.

Uh-oh ... the time seems to have gotten away from me.  Someone is trying to tell me she's hungry.  I had better go get breakfast on  : )

Monday, August 19, 2013

August IHSW Report, Part II

As I explained in my previous post ... August IHSW Report, Part I ... I am doing my IHSW report in two parts this month.  You may have wondered why two parts.  Well, I just think this third project I chose to stitch this weekend needed a post of its own.

Let me start off by saying how much I like primitive designs.  I enjoy several different stitching styles but primitive is at the top of the list.  I enjoy stitching like our grandmothers or great grandmothers may have stitched when they were little girls.  I love having the feel of the past around me.  I think it was, for the most part, a better time.

Stitching primitives, however, is sometimes difficult for me.  I am an OCD perfectionist.  I sometimes have a hard time looking at a chart created by a primitive designer who works hard to give us projects that have the look of old stitched pieces.  I discovered that oftentimes a primitive designer will purposely chart a design off center.  This nearly put me in a mental institution the first time I encountered it.  This particular design I am referring to was kind of in 3 parts.  It had a house in the center with some primitive designs around it.  I had completed all the stitching above the house & then began working on the roof of the house.  This is when I noticed that the house was not only off center but the designer had an extra line of bricks on one side!  I froze.  What in the world?  I removed the stitching I had completed on the house at that point & then sat down with the chart in front of me, measuring it & shifting things around so that everything was evenly centered.  It was a large pinkeep project & I remember thinking afterward that I needed to learn to go with the flow of these things.  I told myself that imperfection is what primitives are all about, but let me tell you, it has been a difficult journey for me.

Another thing that has been difficult for me at times on the primitive stitching front is a designer's color choices.  I have stressed over a designer's color choices many times.  I have shared with you before that I have absolutely no color sense whatsoever.  None. I can sit & look at piles of fabric, floss, color swatches, you name it, with a blank stare. All of you who can so easily swap out a designer's suggested color of floss &/or linen for some other choice have my awe-filled admiration.  If I have any pleasing color combinations in my home or clothing, it's no thanks to me.

I understand that sometimes a designer will choose a color or colors in an attempt, I imagine, to make the finished project look worn & faded.  I remember the first time I realized this.  I was stitching a design with 2 sheep on it.  One of the sheep was white. The other sheep was dark gray ... or so it seemed in the model photo.  I don't recall the DMC number suggested for the dark gray sheep, but it had a heavy green cast to it.  I can probably pinpoint this experience as the beginning of my need for anxiety medication. What was the designer thinking?  Was this sheep rolling around in a grassy field all day long?  Was she nauseated after unsuspectingly eating some bad clover in the field?  Was she envying some other sheep?  I just couldn't ... & still can't ... figure out what in the world that designer was aiming for!

Then there is a designer who created a particular snowman design.  I love snowmen. I really looked forward to stitching the design.  The snowman was a large part of it. He was wearing a black hat & a green scarf. I decided to use the WDW/GAST floss which the designer suggested rather than the DMC alternates.  We have probably all noticed the little disclaimer that designers often add when they suggest hand-dyed or over-dyed floss.  It reads something like "This project will not look the same as model if alternates are used."  I wanted this project to have the exact colors as the model photo so I went with the WDWs & GASTs.  All was going well until I started stitching the snowman who by this time I had named Frosty.  Some of you may remember my adventures stitching Frosty.  If you want to weed through my old postings about this project, it begins with my post on January 4, 2012, & continues off & on until the Celebration Cyber Party Invitation issued on February 8.  There are a lot of non-related postings during that time period but the creation of Frosty is chronicled within them.  To sum it up briefly, when stitching this project, I stitched the white floss last as this is what I had been taught to do when I first became interested in cross stitching.  There were areas of Frosty's body, however, that had some green shading. I blamed the green floss used for his scarf. Surely it must have been shedding little tinges of green onto the white floss.  What other explanation was there?  I may have even gone so far as to remove the scarf & stitch with the white first ... I really can't remember ... but for whatever reason, this hand-dyed/over-dyed white floss had some green shading to it.  Surely when the designer saw the finished model she must have noticed that her Frosty looked a little unwell?  I can't imagine that it was just this one skein of this particular brand of white floss that I had purchased that had this green shading in it.  If nothing else, stitching Frosty was & always will be a memorable experience.

Hmmm ... I know there was a particular reason I was writing this post.  Now what was it?  Oh yes, I wanted to show you what I chose to stitch for my third IHSW project & it's progress.  This is a Stacy Nash design which she has named Christmas Goose Pinkeep.  I would like to suggest a name change though.

Frankenstein's Monster's Daughter
Feeds the Geese Pinkeep
Just take a look at that girl's face!  She is green!  Why Stacy, why?  Anyone?  What is it with these green sheep, green snowmen, green goose girls?  The suggested DMC color for Beulah's skin (I've named her Beulah) is 611- Drab Brown.  I don't see any brown.  I see green.  Avocado green.

Incidentally, Beulah has green skin on Stacy's model photo which I hadn't noticed before deciding to stitch it, so apparently it's not a case of old DMC 611 verses new DMC 611. Stacy just wants her to be green for whatever reason.      

I showed Beulah's completed face, neck, & chest area to John when I finished stitching it last night.  He not only immediately noticed the green color of her skin but he brought out another interesting point about this design.  One of the reasons I am stitching it is because I love old English Christmas carols.  Christmas is Coming is one of my favorites.  John took one look at the design & asked ... 

"Why does it say 'the goose is getting fat' but it's showing two geese?  You should change it so that it reads 'the geese are getting fat' or instead just stitch one goose so what it's saying there makes sense."

AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  I think I'll just venture on & chalk this up to another memorable experience.

Thus ends Part II of my August IHSW report. Aren't you sorry you came along for the ride : )  

August IHSW Report, Part I

I am doing my IHSW report this month in two parts ... Part I & Part II.  Why am I doing this? Read on.

In this Part I of my report, I will show you the two small stitching finishes I spoke about in yesterday's post.

Yeppers ... here they are   : )   Can you guess that they are intended to be gifts & thus the stitching cannot be revealed at this time? Sorry to disappoint with this photo but the mystery will be revealed once they get finished-finished & are in the hands of the intended.  I can tell you that I had a lot of fun stitching them, especially the one on the left.  Why?  I can't tell you that yet ... but I will   : )

Thus ends Part I of my August IHSW report. Stay tuned for Part II   : ) 

Traveling Pattern Winner

The winner of the Lizzie*Kate Friends Are Like Angels traveling pattern is Gracie who lives in Arizona!  Her blog is Needles Pins & Dragonflies.  Congratulations Gracie, & thanks to everyone who entered for a chance to stitch this cute design   : )   

Here is what I have been able to find out about the progression of this traveling pattern.  

1.  Began by Sally in the UK - Stitchyangel's Treasures  
2.  Stitched by Vickie in Wisconsin - A Stitcher's Story
3.  Stitched by me right here in the devil's playground
4.  Gracie's turn

This is the first time I have taken part in stitching a traveling pattern.  I'm sure it won't be my last   : )

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Interrupting IHSW for a Brief Message - With Addendum

Good morning!

Not that anyone has asked, but I'm doing quite well on the stitching front this weekend! I have completed 2 ... yes, that's 2 ... smalls & will be starting another today   : )   I could have started it earlier this morning due to the fact that I woke up at 4 a.m. all bright eyed & bushy tailed, but I'n not sure the fabric I picked out for it is just right, & I could't go digging through my fabric to see if I had anything else since John decided to sleep upstairs last night & rummaging around up there would've woken him.

I am making this interruption post to show you how I store my DMC floss.  I know a lot of people unskein their floss & wrap it on bobbins.  I must admit that this puzzles me. So much extra work!  In my stitching life #2, I developed a bag & store method that I find quite satisfactory.  I store my DMC floss skeins in small snack baggies along with an index card to back them which helps keep the baggies upright   : )   I chose to place 4 different floss numbers, all in numerical order of course, in each snack baggie & made labels for each one showing the numbers.  I then file the baggies numerically in 3 plastic shoe boxes with lids.  The floss skeins I need for a project are thus very easy to find & put away.

ADDENDUM:  I have received a couple comments asking what I do with leftover threads from the skeins I use.  I simply wrap them around my fingers & insert the remainder of the skein into them.  You can see 2 of the skeins in the bag below have little circles of remaining floss wrapped around them   : )
My "designer flosses" ... WDW, GAST, etc ... are another matter entirely.  I used to store them alphabetically on large binder rings & I had them hanging around my dining room chandelier only because that's where I organized them & it was easy to hang a binder ring on the chandelier when it got filled up.  I can't find those photos now, but when we decided to sell the house I decided it was time to change the chandelier setup. The flosses are now less impressive, yet easily accessed, hanging in an upstairs storage closet.
And that's all for this morning folks!  I hope all you IHSW participants are having fun stitching this weekend & that all the rest of you are having fun in other pursuits   : )

Thursday, August 15, 2013

LindaLee's Giveaway & A Chance to Stitch a Traveling Pattern

LindaLee of Cross'N My Stitches is having a giveaway which you can read about here  : ) Her rules are simple ... be a follower of her blog, post about it on your own blog, & make sure to include your name & blog address. See!  Easy-peasy   : )   The drawing will be held on September 26th.  You have a chance to win a box of undisclosed goodies!  Fun! Do be sure to stop by & enter   : )

In yesterday's post I indicated that I would do a post today for people to sign up if they are interested in stitching the traveling pattern I just finished.  It's a Lizzie*Kate design called Friends Are Like Angels.

I wish I could tell you from whence this traveling pattern originated, but I have no idea.  All I know for sure is our resident Poodle Princess, Vickie at A Stitcher's Story, stitched it last & then drew my name to be the next person to stitch it.  As I often state, I am not much of a Lizzie*Kate person but I thought this was a good stitching project for gifting   : )   Dear Vickie included a little gift in with the pattern when she sent it to me ... a set of 5 of her lovely counting pins!  Have you ever seen Vickie's counting pins?  She does a lovely job making them & I dare say they are the best you will ever see!  Anyway, it's now my time to send the pattern on its way to someone else to stitch.  I will also include a small gift with it as Vickie did when she sent it to me   : )   If you'd like to stitch this pattern next (you must stitch it relatively soon after you receive it ... no fair keeping it languishing in your stash for many weeks) just leave a comment on this post. Be sure I have some way of contacting you. Although I understand fully well why they do it, there are many no-reply bloggers who leave comments that cannot be answered because there is no way to get in touch with them.  So, that's it!  Leave your comment telling me you'd like a chance to receive the pattern & I will choose a name on Monday morning, August 19th.  That means you must leave your comment no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, August 18th.  Good luck to all of you   : )

After my announcement yesterday that I had been chosen to receive the first Silver Sloth Award, I decided to start a new project.  It's not a Lizzie*Kate pattern but it's along the same lines ... something small that will stitch up quickly.  Believe it or not, I'm about half-way done with it already!  This is what happens when a doctor prescribes medication that causes insomnia.  You can get a lot of stitching done in the wee hours of the morning!  I called the pharmacist earlier who told me I could take all the daily pills in this particular prescription before breakfast instead of half before breakfast & the other half after dinner.  Tonight I should be able to sleep ... hooray!  I should take advantage of this burst of energy I'm experiencing right now & actually do something around here like pack some stuff (don't ask me why ... just to get it out of the way I guess) or clean some stuff or whatever, but I'll probably catch up on some of the sleep I missed out on last night & do more stitching on my new project which incidentally I cannot show you because it's a gift   : )

I hope you are all having a good ending to your week!  Don't forget, this weekend is IHSW!  I'm getting a bit anxious to work on some Christmas projects!  If the truth be told, I'm getting a bit anxious to actually decorate for Christmas ... lol!  Have you noticed my Countdown to Christmas counter has been moved back up to the top of my blog?  I think this has all come about because of the bit of cooler weather we've had recently with temps in the 70s during the day & the 50s at night.  I even had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast yesterday morning & in the afternoon I got out my hot chocolate maker!  I am obviously rushing the season ... temps will be back in the 80s next week ... but it's been fun   : )   Does anyone else like oatmeal?  Other than me & Bert ...
 ... I don't know of anyone now-a-days who really does.  I like it plain with just a bit of salt.  I'll bet Bert likes his that way too   : )

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Silver Sloth Award

After reading through 3 days of blog posts this morning, I came to the conclusion that I will be named the first recipient of the Silver Sloth Award.

Although I think it's quite cute, it's probably not the most prestigious award for one to receive.  However, if it has been determined that one has earned it, I guess it's only fair for one to accept it.    

Two or three of the owners of blogs I follow posted about their truly amazing progress on at least one, even more than one, stitching project during the past 2 weeks. These projects included some hefty designs! We're talking HAEDs here folks!  Do you want to see what I managed to accomplish during the past 2 weeks?
Pitiful, isn't it.  No wonder I am the first recipient of the Silver Sloth.  It was probably created just for me.  It will probably be nicknamed "the Shirlee" by some late night TV talk show host.  Not only is it obvious how simple, quick, 1-2-3 this design is, but you may notice that I didn't get the design centered correctly!  I don't know what happened with that.  You may also notice that the design is not as L*K intended it to be.  It is not technically finished.  There is supposed to be a kind of decorative border here & there along the edges but I think if I add the border on the bottom, it will bring the design too close to the edge & then how will my poor finisher ever be able to finish it comfortably?  So yes, I think this design is now as finished as I'm going to make it.  Does it look too blah?  I hope not.  Perhaps it can be spiced up during the finishing process if that's the case.  

Two weeks.  Two weeks of stitching & this is what I've got to show for it.  It's true, I have had to endure a multitude of physical therapy visits which after 8+ weeks I'm getting awfully tired of even though Bo is a very nice therapist.  Then there's the blasted home exercise program which Bo has given me to do 6 days per week (I felt pretty good about this at first ... now it's kind of a chore), cardiac issues, & oh joy, something new. Strange boil-like eruptions on various areas of my body.  I was seriously considering changing my name to Job for a while.  Not really boils.  My Bible translation calls them "loathsome sores."  That's about right.  I finally got an appointment with my doctor who insists I have contact dermatitis.  I think she would put her career on the line regarding her certainty that I have either (A) worn a ... GASP! ... cheap watch or bracelet; (B) bought a new brand of bath soap, hand cream, washing liquid, etc; (C) took a stroll through a forest, meadow, or weed infested side of a country road; (D) allowed an animal roaming about outdoors to brush against me; or (E) allowed poor, poor Sophie ... a totally innocent indoor cat from the time I brought her home from the shelter in 1999 ... to go out into the yard & drag in heaven only knows what kind of horror to transfer to my body.  It is a strange sort of rash. Red, itchy, & not distributed with any particular rhyme or reason.  It is concentrated on my right forearm & left thigh for the most part ... large, red, itchy "loathsome sores."  There is a different sort of dispersion on my tummy, chest, & lower back ... sort of resembling a bunch of insect bites.  Anyway, I responded with a resounding "no" to all Dr. Know-It-All's explanations as to how this rash came to be on my body & she looked at me like I was an idiot.  In fact, she went so far as to state I must have worn, brought home, strolled through, rubbed against, or allowed poor Sophie to escape into the yard without realizing it ... not believing my protestations that none of these scenarios took place! Thankfully before I stood up to belt her one, she stated she would write me 2 prescriptions to heal me & stop the itching & suggested a cortisone cream for extra relief. I am thankful for 2 things.  No, make that 3. First of all, I have medications which seem to be working.  Secondly, the rash has not gone anywhere near my face.  This is an ugly, red, itchy mess, my friends.  Not my face ... the rash.  And thirdly, it is not contagious which brings up an interesting point.  How did it get from my right forearm to my left thigh, or vice versa?  If the truth be told, I don't really care anymore.  I'm feeling better & it's slowly going away.  Hooray!  Maybe I can get some real stitching done now   : )

I neglected to mention that the above L*K design came to me as a traveling pattern.  I am not a L*K sort of person but something about this design called to me.  Therefore, I threw my name in the hat for a chance to have it travel from our own Poodle Princess, Vickie ... A Stitcher's Story ... to me, & my name was chosen!  So it is now my turn to offer this design to someone else.  I will do this in a separate posting so as not to cause confusion so bear with me for that posting to be made ... undoubtedly tomorrow.  I sadly do not know from whence this traveling pattern originated ... just that Vickie had it before me.  If anyone can fill me in on the travel order, I'd really appreciate it   : )

I now must open myself to ridicule & embarrassment.  Remember in my last post ... I think it was my last post ... I told you about how excited John & I were to see a baby hummingbird feasting on the flowers in one of our hanging baskets on the front porch? Today there were 3 of them feasting on the rather sad looking remaining butterfly bush blooms at the side of the porch.  I went into the house & grabbed my camera.  I took a dozen or so photos & here are the 3 that best show the baby hummers.

I showed the photos to John & said "I don't think these are baby hummingbirds.  They have big antennae on their heads & are kind of furry like a bee."  He answered "But look how their wings beat like hummingbird wings & how long their mouth is!"  I then replied "A hummingbird's mouth doesn't curl up like you can see in that last photo!"  We did an online search & I guess we were kind of in the ballpark with our baby hummingbird guess.  Kind of.  In our defense, we didn't see that one I wrote about in my last post at close-up range.  These little creatures are actually hummingbird moths!  Who would've known!  Well, my friend in North Dakota would've known.  She studied entomology.  I have no idea how we became such good friends but I'm sure there are things about me that she has turned a blind eye to just like I turned a blind eye to her love of bugs. I'll have to send her these photos.  She will probably get all excited & tell me everything there is to know about hummingbird moths. Hmmm ... maybe I'll keep the photos just between us bloggers.  Mary doesn't read blogs   : )

Remember ... if you are going to want to try for a chance to have the L*K traveling pattern travel to your home next, watch for my next post to sign up   : )

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Congratulations June!!!

June of Butterfly wings is the winner of my partially finished, woefully lacking in enough thread Shepherd's Bush kit.  Congratulations June!!!

A total of 9 followers were interested in the kit.  I wrote their names on pieces of paper, tossed them in an empty tea box, & June's was the name that was pulled from the box first.  Once again, congratulations June   : )   I already have your address, so the kit will soon be winging its way to you.
Not much going on here stitching-wise.  I'm still working on the Lizzie*Kate traveling pattern & still hoping to finish it before the end of the weekend.  

I had mentioned in my last post that the new heart medication which the specialist added to my regimen was not working well.  As it turns out, it was causing me some pretty bad side effects.  I would take it & within an hour or two I would be very dizzy, unsteady on my feet, have difficulty breathing, & have trouble seeing clearly.  These symptoms would wax & wane throughout the day.  I tried telling myself that I just needed to get used to the medication, so I kept taking it. Sometimes I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  After putting up with these side effects for 3 weeks, I called his nurse & she in turn talked with him & he agreed that I needed to stop taking the medication.  He did not prescribe any other medications for me.  If he had, I wouldn't have wanted to take them.  After having bad side effects from the last three, I'm really not keen on trying another.  We will talk about cardiac ablation vs. pacemaker placement at my appointment on the 20th.  All I know about pacemakers is you can't be near a microwave.  Oddly enough, I was talking with my aunt yesterday & found out that one of my cousins recently had a pacemaker placed.  I will maybe have to give her a call & talk with her about her experience with it. 

I hate to even say this but it looks like I may need to start eating a gluten-free diet.  All I know about eating a gluten-free diet is that you can't have wheat.  No wheat.  Sounds like a death sentence, doesn't it.  I can give up sugar without a second thought, but wheat? The outstanding indication of my need to go gluten-free is the fact that after my strict diet I started eating a bowl of shredded wheat in the mornings & a vege sandwich in the afternoons made with whole wheat bread.  I would feel very bloated afterward & just "not right."  I also started gaining back some of the weight I had lost.  Not a good thing.  Supposedly a gluten-free diet helps people who have autoimmune diseases, & since I have a few of them, along with the bloating/not right issues, I should feel better once I start this.  But again ... no wheat.  If any of you can recommend a good book about eating gluten free, please let me know.  
We had 2 hummingbirds visiting us this summer ... same as last year.  Since we enjoy watching them, & the flowers that drew them to the garden had finished blooming, we decided to buy 2 hummingbird feeders.  I hung one on the back porch & the other I placed on a bird feeder pole in a smaller garden.  I took photos of the 2 hummingbirds using the porch feeder.  Since it's in a shady area, you can't really see their coloring very well, but you can tell they are different hummingbirds.  The first 2 photos show a hummingbird with a lot of light feathers & some light coloring on/around his head.  The second 2 photos show a hummingbird with a very dark head, & if you look very, very closely, you will see a bit of red coloring around his neck in photo #3.

We were ecstatic that these 2 hummingbirds found the feeders so quickly.  Somehow, word got around & we now have about a dozen hummingbirds coming to use the feeders. However, these first two, especially the one with the lighter feathers, are very territorial & they will chase away the others when they see them.  The one with the lighter feathers actually will sit in a large bush we have near the back porch where he can see both feeders, & he guards them fiercely!

This territorial behavior rather upsets me. There are plenty of perching areas on the feeders as well as plenty of nectar to go around, yet these 2 hummingbirds don't want to share.  John & I watched a documentary about hummingbirds a week or so before buying the feeders & it did mention that they can be territorial.  Ah well, I just hope the other hummingbirds get to enjoy the feeders at least some of the time ... maybe when the 2 guards are taking a bathroom break   : )

I have no photos to share with you regarding this next bit of information so you'll just have to take my word on it   : )   John & I were sitting on the front porch the other day.  We have 2 large flowering baskets hanging out there.  We noticed something flying from flower to flower in the basket closest to us & at first thought it was a large bee, but no! It was a baby hummingbird!!!  It was the first time either of us had seen one.  On the one hand it was a combination of us being in the right place at the right time, but I also believe God sends us little gifts on occasion, & I consider seeing that baby hummingbird to be one of His gifts to us that day   : )

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Stitchy Stuff & Other Stuff

It seems like it's been a while since I posted much in the way of stitchy stuff.  I will post some today, but first I want to share these photos of some baby birds in a small nest located in a very small Japanese maple near our back porch.

I know you can't see them very well, but there are 3 babies.  When I saw the eggs in the nest, I couldn't believe it.  They were spotted blue & were smaller than jellybeans! I couldn't imagine anything growing inside them, but here they are   : )   It's hard to tell how really small the nest & the baby birds are from the photo itself.  This is a photo of the tree, but it's still difficult to get the concept.  The tree itself comes up to about my shoulders.
I'm also going to share another daylily photo. As you can see in the above photo, many of the daylilies are no longer blooming, but this one ... which I've shown you before ... had a much deeper color to it than in the last photo I shared so I decided to show it to you again   : )
I was in a real stitching funk for a while thanks to Shepherd's Bush & their Merry Merry Be kit without enough thread to finish the design.  I thought I might be able to make something out of it despite there not being enough red thread in the kit, but as I literally forced myself to continue along, I discovered there was also not enough light green thread & the dark green thread seems to be leaning the same way.  I just can't stand looking at it anymore.  I've decided that I have 4 ways to handle this.

1.  Do a Shirlee.

2.  Send it to the local shooting range for target practice.

3  Send it back to Shepherd's Bush telling them exactly what I think about their kit assembling practices.

4.  Give it to someone who wants it for God knows what reason.

If anyone is keen on #4, leave a comment here & tell me.  If more than 1 person is interested in having this kit, knowing that there is no red & not enough green threads to complete it, I will toss the names in a bowl & draw one on I don't know ... let's say Friday, August 9.  You'll get whatever threads remain, the kit photo, the buttons, & the trim along with the pattern & instructions.  Best of luck to any brave souls who choose this option.  

This SB kit almost put me off stitching, but I have started the Lizzie*Kate Friends Are Like Angels traveling pattern & hope to finish it sometime this week so it can travel to someone else.  I'll post when I've finished stitching it & ask at that time if anyone wants to stitch it next.  

Not much new on the medical front.  The increase in dosage of the old heart medication & the addition of the new one isn't working well.  I fear the ablation is the next step but I will know more when I talk with the doctor again.  We are not busy packing so obviously we have not yet sold the house so nothing is new on that front either.

I hope you all have been having a great weekend!  The weather here almost seems fall like at times.  Some of our trees are even changing color!  Happy dance, happy dance ... winter is just around the corner   : )