Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Grocery Shopping, UPS Visit, & Prim-ing My Cross Stitch

A lovely cool day today!!!
Only a heavy snowfall would've made it better   : )

I had to venture forth into the devil's playground to run a few errands which included a stop at the grocery store.  I think I've got all the staples covered for a couple days.
Note what's there on the right corner in front.  I stopped by the drug store thinking maybe they'd have the Peeps ghosts on sale but there were none to be found.  (They did have the Peeps orange pumpkins but they don't taste the same.)  I was, however, thrilled to discover that the Peeps snowmen had made their appearance   : )
Peeps white peeps at Easter time were always the best but the Peeps company no longer makes the white ones so I have to suffer   : (   My only chance of capturing even a bit of the white peep goodness is with the white ghosts or the white snowmen. While standing at the checkout counter the salesclerk said to me "The Halloween pumpkin Peeps are on sale."  I didn't want to go into a long dissertation about how the colors affect the taste so I just said "the snowmen taste better"  & she laughed!  Poor thing didn't have a clue.

After taking the above photo I prepared the Peeps snowmen for future eating.  First I took off the plastic covering.  (I don't know how those bananas got in my cart.)
Then I placed the open packages on top of the refrigerator to age for a few days.
Peeps are NOT good fresh from the package. They must age on top of a refrigerator first in order for them to dry up a bit on the outside & be chewy on the inside.  Any Peeps gourmet will tell you this.  

At this point I heard the UPS truck coming up the driveway ... always a wonderful anticipatory event!  What was he bringing me?  More stash perhaps?  I sent John out to get the package ... quite a large box which I began to open immediately.
Let's take a closer look!
What could it be?!?!?
Why it's my order of 2 boxes of flying saucers!!!  Joy!  Rapture!  I will try not to overdose on them tonight.  

Sophie passed out from the sheer excitement of it all.
On to the cross stitch portion of today's post.  Two days ago, after taking a heavy dose of antiemetics (barf prevention medicines) I stuffed 2 pinkeeps, stitched up the openings, & attempted to "prim them up." Last year a product called Distress It was highly recommended to me.  I found it to be a strange product.  I had to spray my pinkeeps time & time again ... & again & again & again ... to finally get them to look even remotely distressed.  I knew when I fetched the bottle yesterday that I was facing more stress to my spray pump finger.  Interesting thing about Distress It ... at least the bottle I have in my possession.  I could tell there was plenty of the solution remaining in the bottle but after a very brief period of time nothing was spraying out no matter how I positioned it.  I unscrewed the sprayer & that's when I discovered that the bottom of the sprayer did not reach the bottom of the bottle.  It was a good 1-1/2 inches too short!  What's up with that?  I didn't know what else to do so I dumped some of the solution onto my fingers & sort of patted it on the pinkeeps.  I don't recommend doing this.  It's messy & it doesn't provide you with any better staining results than if you sprinkled water from the faucet onto it.  With all the hype I read last year about Distress It I can't help but wonder if my bottle had been watered down although surely it had been sealed in some way when I bought it?  Anyway, the point is that the results of using the Distress It were again, well, distressing.  I then decided to try tea staining.  I did not want to try coffee staining because in the past my things have always ended up with an orange tint for some reason.  I boiled a cup of water & plunged in 6 tea bags, letting them soak overnight.  I anticipated amazing staining results but that was not the case.  I even took the wet tea bags & pounced them onto the fabric.  I've got a bit of light brown color here & there & that's it.  What in the world am I doing wrong?  My pinkeeps now scream "Not only is Shirlee a failure at finishing, she's also a failure at staining!"  (No, I'm not going to share a photo.  Just picture a little pillow with some light brown shading here & there.)

I know a lot of people swear by walnut crystals.  I invested in some of them last year & the results were as if I held them up for Inky the Octopus to have a shot at. Black splotches here & there.  


Monday, October 29, 2012

I Think I've Found A Solution

After spending part of the morning upstairs attempting a few more finishes, I've decided that this is the best I'm going to be able to do for my cross stitch ornament tree.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

We Can See!

Bart & Beulah Snowman gave a press conference today where they announced the success of the procedure which has given them the ability to see the world around them.
The happy couple.

When asked about the multiple eye-ectomies it took to provide their sight, Bart said, "It was touch & go there for a while, but Dr. Teis [The Easily Influenced Stitcher] would not give up."  

Beulah gazed lovingly at Bart as she blinked back tears of joy.  "It was all worth it because now I can see my Bartie!  God bless Dr. Teis!" 

The happy couple stated that their future plans include doing a bit of traveling.  "We'd like to visit our families for the holidays," said Bart, "especially Uncle Frosty."

Dr. Teis could not be reached for comment.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Finishing vs. French Knots

I don't know which is worse ... Finishing, or French knots.  Both F words.  No surprise there.  

Last night I attempted to make 2 little colonial knots on my LHN Snow in Love ornament.  There are a total of 4 knots needed ... eyes for Mr. & Mrs. Snowman.  The designer suggests making French knots but you know I ain't gonna go there.  I've had dumb luck a time or two in the past with a random colonial knot so thought I'd give that a try.  I don't know ... maybe I was too sugared up from the big piece of cake I had after dinner or the treat plate of Milano cookies, flying saucers & mini gummy bears that followed.  Whatever the reason, disaster ensued.  As I performed my third eye-ectomy on Mrs. Snowman I decided that perhaps the night was cursed & I would have success giving sight to Bart & Beulah in the light of the following day (today).

I woke up & was greeted by a lovely morning. Cool, gray, overcast, windy ... one of those gifts from heaven you're presented with every now & then.  I came out of the bedroom, passed by my stitching table, saw Bart & Beulah & thought "They can't see me. They don't know I'm here."  I quietly made my way to the kitchen, made a cup of tea & went off to visit blog land.  After a while I took care of a few bits of housework, made a sandwich, watched an old Donna Reed show on DVD, & then felt the urge to go upstairs & do some finishing.  This is not normal for me.  I asked John to feel my forehead to see if I had a temperature.  I appeared to be fine.  I then dilly-dallied around for a while thinking the feeling would go away.  It didn't.  Therefore, filled with rare confidence & anticipation, I went upstairs to make a dent in the 52-plus. 

I began with a small ornament.  In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have attempted anything even remotely creative. As already stated, it was small.  I decided that because of its size, it would get lost in the branches of a Christmas tree, & I thought that enlarging it a bit by sewing a complimentary fabric border around the design was a good idea.  A good idea maybe if you don't have the finishing skills of a baboon!!!  The border itself didn't end up looking too bad but I couldn't leave well enough alone.  Before I knew it, I had cut a piece of the same complimentary fabric for the back & sewed the edges together to make it into a little pillow type ornament.   Nothing fancy, just a simple pillow finish.  I mean honestly, how could I mess it up?  Let's just say it's a good thing Bart & Beulah can't see the carnage.  

For some reason I kept on going.  Did I actually think I was going to improve?!?!?  I don't know what I was thinking.  I should've went downstairs, served myself up another treat plate & viewed another day in the idyllic life of Donna Stone, but instead I spent time finishing a prim pinkeep, "prim" being the key word.  If I messed it up, people would think I wanted it to look that way.  I decided to experiment.  I had mistakenly stitched 8 of this design instead of 4.  I wasn't keen on ruining anything but figured I wouldn't need to call the suicide hotline if I caused irreparable damage to one or two of them.  I won't go into all the different finishing techniques I tried on these 2 pinkeeps but let's just say I've created a new scheme in decorating ... beyond primitive.   

Nothing quite takes the wind out of your sails like spending a couple hours trying to finish 2 simple pinkeeps & an ornament & ending up with pinkeep/ornament Armageddon. 
"Oh no!  Shirlee's trying to finish her 
cross stitch projects again!"

Gifts & Exchanges & Candle Winners

I should have posted these gifts & exchanges long ago so, without further ado, let the posting begin   : )

Is this not one of the most delightful things you've ever seen?!?!?  I discovered Thomas Joseph's artwork a couple months ago & wanted to buy everything shown on his website ... lol!  Let's just say that he is a very creative when it comes to sheep   : )   I mentioned him to Sally & when she visited Whitby a while back she saw a Thomas Joseph coaster in a shop & decided she had to get it for me   : )
Baaad Girls!  I love it!  Their hair reminds me of my own back in the days when I had more than a few whisps of it on my head.  Their facial expressions are priceless   : )

Sally also sent me a lovely postcard from Whitby.  Doesn't it look like a lovely place?
Here's a bit of an interesting story about Whitby.  I'll begin by telling you that in the evenings while I'm stitching, John reads me a chapter out of whatever biography we are reading at the moment.  We both enjoy biographies.  He reads, I listen.  I wish he would read more than one chapter.  I also wish that he would read books I have been wanting to read but can never find the time to do so.  Perhaps I should start investing in audio books.  Tonight he will read the epilogue from our current choice, Michael Caine's biography, The Elephant to Hollywood, & tomorrow night we will move on to something new. 

Back to Whitby.  I had never heard of Whitby until Sally mentioned it on her blog. The next thing I knew, John was reading a chapter from Michael Caine's biography & what do you think he made mention of?  Yes ... Whitby   : )   This is what Mr. Caine had to say ...

"On a rare day off, my team ... Jim, my assistant; Colin, my driver; & Dave, my motor home driver ... decided to drive to Whitby, where we had been told we could buy the best fish & chips anywhere.  We found the shop, bought the fish & chips & ate them in the traditional way from their newspaper wrapping while walking around Whitby harbor.  We had just rounded a corner ... when we stopped, astonished.  There, standing on the quayside & staring out into the harbor, was a crowd of about 300 men dressed as Dracula.  They were all shouting in unison, 'It's good to talk!' at a small boat bobbing about with 2 people in it who seemed to be being filmed from a second boat off to one side.  We couldn't make head nor tail of it, nor could we see who was in the boat, so we went back to the fish & chips shops owner.  He explained everything. Whitby was where Bram Stoker, the Victorian novelist & theater manager, had written his famous story about Dracula.  Unbeknownst to us we had come to the town on Stoker's birthday & encountered a whole bunch of Dracula fans who were there to celebrate. Well, that seemed reasonable enough .. but what were they shouting & why?  That turned out to be simple, too.  The boat had contained my old friend Bob Hoskins who was most recently celebrated for his famous TV commercials for British Telecom in which the punch line was, 'It's good to talk.'  You couldn't make it up, could you?"

I just thought I'd include that excerpt.  I thought it was interesting that I had never heard of Whitby before & now, out of the blue, I've heard of it twice.  Perhaps fate is telling me I should go there?

Mr. Caine never bothered to elaborate on the fish & chips which was the main reason for his visit to Whitby.  Were they indeed "...the best fish & chips anywhere?"  When John & I visited London a few years back, we had fish & chips at a pub called The Globe. We sat at a table & ate them out of little baskets.  They were to die for!  I can't imagine better fish & chips being offered anywhere else in the whole British Isles!

A while back I mentioned in a post that I wanted to re-collect past JCS Ornaments issues & mentioned I had been successful with the exception of 3, one of which was the 2003 issue.  Chris, God bless her, had an extra one & sent it to me!
Thank you again, Sally & Chris, for your thoughtfulness   : )

Back in August I signed up for the Stitched With Love Animal Antics exchange.  The exchange photos have been posted on the site so I can now share with you what I sent & what I received   : )   

I was given Renee's name.  Her blog is Fit to Stitch & her top 3 favorite animal choices were dogs, birds, & bunnies.  I decided to choose dogs for her theme since they were her first choice.  The stitched piece is Le Chien, JBW Designs.  The little pouch was a special order from Faye who makes the best pouches ever!  Didn't she do a great job creating one with a dog theme?  

Cath Willey received my name in the exchange.  I do not know if Cath has a blog. My 3 favorite animal choices were birds, reindeer, & sheep, & as I did with Renee, Cath chose my first choice as my theme   : )
I'm using the photo Cath took for Lainey to post on the SWL site.  So many goodies ... trims & accessories & beads & charms, flosses, lavender soap, nail files, a Christmas fat quarter, & even a pair of Union Jack socks   : )   The little stitched pillow she made me is beautiful ... Cath's stitching is exquisite!  Thank you, Cath, for a most thoughtful package!

And now for the winners of the candles!  I did my usual "names in a hat" thing.  I pulled Krista's name first.  Krista indicated she would like to have the Christmas Cheer candle.  The second name I pulled was Terri & the third name I pulled was Pamela.  Both Terri & Pamela said they would be happy with any scent so I will choose them in the order they are lined up on my dry sink.  Terri will receive Mistletoe Kiss & Pamela will receive Gingerbread.  Thanks to everyone who entered ... I wish I had candles for all of you   : )

It's a bit nippy this morning!  I think our temp is going to top out in the 50s today although we will be seeing temps in the 40s in another day or two!  Woo-hoo!  If only it would go lower & stay there, but alas ... temps will be going into the 60s again before too long.  Ah well, I'll enjoy it while it lasts.  Hot chocolate is on the menu today for sure   : )

I did a bit more stitching on my Snow in Love gate crashing SAL ornament last night.  I tried 3 times to make Mrs. Snowman's eyes with those blasted colonial knots & then gave up & went to bed.  I'll try again today. All that will be left after those blasted eyes are the back stitches representing the pine needles on the tree.  This design is kind of a freak of nature because the tree trunk & branches resemble those of a maple or oak but then there are pine needles hanging here & there.  A dendrologist (a person who studies trees & other woody plants ... I had to look that up) would probably take issue with this design but I'll make do   : )

Have a happy day everyone!  I'm off to make that cup of hot chocolate I mentioned   : )

Thursday, October 25, 2012

SAL ... Sort Of

Last week Sally posted that she & Barb were embarking on a SAL.  The chosen project was LHN's Snow in Love.

I like several of the LHN ornaments.  Not all of them, mind you.  Some are a bit too "cutesy" for me.  This one, however,  is irresistible.  A snowy winter landscape, snow people, a bird ... what more could anyone want?  I continue to be puzzled at the Be Merry wording on it though.  I would've sworn on my stash of Stacy Nash's that the name of this ornament was Be Merry.  A little joke played by the designer to keep us on our toes I guess   : )   Since I had this ornament kitted up I decided to boldly gate crash Sally & Barb's SAL party.  My plan was to start stitching it as soon as I finished LHN's Winter Forest & I did just that.  I started stitching on Monday & here's where I stopped last night. 
Poor Mrs. Snowman looks a bit like something out of a horror movie with what appears to be big, sunken eyes.  Actually the pattern calls for the eyes to be, heaven help me, colonial knots.  Those big open spaces that are currently in her face are where her rosy cheeks are supposed to be.  The designer wants me to use DMC 3774.  I am out of DMC 3774 & I don't have a LNS where I can just zip out to purchase a skein.  I tried various substitutes without any success & decided to just leave those rosy cheeks blank for now ... but I was looking at other LHN ornament charts this morning (anticipation of the next start) when I found a snow guy with cheeks of DMC 948.  I will give that a try tonight.  

Don't forget my weird giveaway of slightly used candles.  Where else in blog land do you find giveaways such as this?  Open to current followers only ... as if people are going to flock here for slightly used candles! Lol!

Welcome to my new followers & a happy hug & a handful of flying saucers to all my followers!  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anyone Want A Slightly Used Candle?

Since Mr. Sensitivity began to go into fits of dramatics a few months ago whenever he even sees me with a bag of tarts in my hand (the scented wax kind, not the ones the Queen of Hearts made), I no longer use them & have moved on to candles instead.  I love candles burning but the scents, no matter which type of candle I buy, are barely detectable.  The best "big business" candles I have found are by Swan Creek Candle Company.  You can actually notice the scents & I have been happy with those I've tried thus far.

About 2 weeks ago I decided to order some Christmas scents directly from Swan Creek. Unfortunately they did not have a description of the scents on their website so I just ordered 5 candles based solely on their Christmas-themed names.

I love spicy scents & some (not all) baking scents.  At this point I've tried burning 3 of these candles & it turns out they are sweet scents.  I did not burn them for very long ... maybe 15-20 minutes.  The wicks are burned but trimmed neatly & the candles themselves are clean.  I can't return them to the company based on my not liking the scents so I am offering them to anyone who might want them.

There are 3 candles & I will give one to 3 different followers.  The scents are Mistletoe Kiss, Gingerbread, & Christmas Cheer .  If you would like to have one, just comment on this post & let me know which scent you would like.  If more than one person chooses a scent, I will do the hat thing   : )   You will need to leave a comment no later than 12:01 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) Saturday morning, October 27.

I am sorry to say that this offer is only available to my followers in the US.  The candles would be too heavy to mail overseas.  Also, this offer is only for current followers of my blog so please do not post about it on your own blog.

Best of luck to you all!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Shirlee's Birthday

Shirlee's 2nd Birthday
October 21, 1955

Shirlee's 59th Birthday
October 21, 2012

2-year-old Shirlee had no idea
 what the ravages of the next 57 years 
would amount to!

I had a very nice birthday this year & I received some lovely emails & e-cards wishing me a happy day & year & some presents as well   : )

Jo made me the prettiest stitched birthday card & she made sure to point out the french knot she used to dot the "i" in my name   : )
Michelle sent me a very cute card along with this beautiful little red & white pillow. She & I both love birds & we are both trying to amass a collection of little red & white pillows  : )
Paula from Portugal (no blog) sent me 2 special CDs.  One of them has songs relating to winter & of course we all know the reason for that choice   : )   The other CD features songs by Portuguese artists she admires.  She also stitched me a lovely welcome ornament   : )
June sent a heavenly scented package which included a pretty card along with 2 rose sachets, some pompom trim, a few Christmas charms, a needle minder, & a beautiful stitched rose pillow   : )
Last, but not least, Vickie remembered me commenting once upon a time that I didn't have any counting pins & she made some very pretty ones for me   : )   She also looked closely at pictures of my Sophie which have appeared on my blog from time to time & she made me this sweet ornament featuring Sophie's likeness.  Sophie was made using Ghiordes knots, also known as the Turkey Rug stitch because it is used to make Turkish rugs.  Lots & lots of little loops are made & then cut for a shaggy or fur-like effect.  She sent a cute little birdie card as well   : )

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Stacy Nash (Monster Mash)

The mind can be a strange thing in some cases.  Mine is strange in most cases   : )   A while back I was stitching a design by Stacy Nash & for some reason Bobby Pickett's hit song Monster Mash started rolling around in my head.  I couldn't help but notice the syllabic similarity between the title of the song & the name of the designer & of course I had to expound on it.  For those of you who might not be familiar with Monster Mash, you can give it a listen by clicking on the link below & then sing along with my substitute lyrics if you'd like.  Happy October everyone!
Stacy Nash (Monster Mash)

I was looking for a chart late one night
When my eyes beheld a thrilling sight.
I had  many charts to choose from!  So many I'd bought!
But one of them was surely the best of the lot!

(She found a Nash!)
I found a Stacy Nash!
(A Stacy Nash!)
Yes, right there in my stash!
(She found a Nash!)
It would stitch in a flash!
(She found a Nash!)
I found a Stacy Nash!

With an alphabet & a critter or two
And a primitive date (1892)
I knew I couldn't go wrong!  It would be quite a prize!
A real treat for anyone's eyes!

(She found a Nash!)
I found a Stacy Nash!
(A Stacy Nash!)
Yes, right there in my stash!
(She found a Nash!)
It would stitch in a flash!
(She found a Nash!)
I found a Stacy Nash!

The letters were fun to do.
I loved Stacy's choice of blue!
The joy was overwhelming!
Maybe I'd stitch a few!

Things got a bit rocky & I felt some despair
When I looked at the chart & saw a french knot there
But my stitching friends told me  not to wish I was dead.
They said I could replace it with a cross stitch instead!

(She found a Nash!)
I found a Stacy Nash!
(A Stacy Nash!)
Yes, right there in my stash!
(She found a Nash!)
It would stitch in a flash!
(She found a Nash!)
I found a Stacy Nash!

Out from the bedroom dear hubs appeared
And over my shoulder he came & peered.
"I can't believe you're stitching so late," he said!
Then he muttered these words as he went back to bed.

(Another Nash!)
Another Stacy Nash!
(A  Stacy Nash!)
My wife thinks they're a smash!
(Another Nash!)
Stacy gets all my cash!
(Another Nash!)
Another Stacy Nash!

Everything was cool as the last stitch I took
And I smiled a big smile as I gave it a look.
I was proud of the finish!  It was a sight to behold!
Then I got up from  my chair & to my craft room I strolled

(To get a Nash!)
To get a Stacy Nash!
(Another Nash!)
Yes, right there in my stash!
(Another Nash!)
It  is always a blast
(To stitch a Nash!)
To stitch a Stacy Nash! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maybe I Need to Get Out More

For several reasons I have gotten to be sort of a recluse here in the devil's playground. My house holds many bad memories for me & I don't really like being here but over the past almost 3-1/2 years I have noticed that it takes a huge amount of effort for me to go anywhere.  Our cupboards will be almost bare before I will grudgingly go with John to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  If it weren't for medical & dental appointments ... which I literally force myself to go to ... I would probably not go anywhere.  Even going out in the yard or onto the porch is becoming a rare occurrence.  Sometimes John & I will go somewhere & on the way to wherever it is I will realize that it's been a week or more since the last time I was out.

Psychiatrists would probably say that this is not a good thing but I am not staying in because I'm depressed or because I'm afraid of what's out there in the world.  I am actually quite comfortable.  I enjoy my own company.  I have plenty of interests & things to keep me busy.  There are times when John & I go places but there are other times when we plan to go somewhere & then as the time gets closer we decide to just stay home.

Weirdness abounds in the devil's playground  : )

What has prompted this introspection?  I was sitting here this morning, drinking my cup of tea & reading blog posts, when I glanced out the window & saw this.

The sight almost took my breath away!  The sky was so dark & ominous looking to the south & west but the sun beams were streaming in from the east & just making everything glow!  This one particular maple tree was amazing!  The photos don't do justice to the real thing but they will give you an idea of the sight that was before me.
As soon as I noticed all this beauty I grabbed the camera & went out on the porch.  I was met with the most lovely weather & gentle breeze.  If a moment in time ... without a few feet of snow ... could be perfection, this would be it.  That is how long it lasted, too ... just a moment.  Surely God nudged me to glance out the window when I did in order to share this gift with me.  What a blessing!

Yesterday I decided to go upstairs to see if I could get my treadle working.  The last time I used it ... probably a year ago ... the tension was way off & no matter what I did I could not get it fixed.  There aren't any sewing machine repair guys here in the devil's playground.  John has been suggesting that we take it to Lexington or Louisville to have it serviced but transporting it in the SUV would be rather tricky assuming it would even fit in there.  I purchased a cheap sewing machine from Walmart last year just to use for zig-zagging around the edges of my cross stitch fabric & I have grudgingly been using that to sew things.  I hate it with a passion.  Anyway, I decided yesterday to open up the treadle & give the tension another go.  I feared that the tension would be the least of my worries, however.  The treadle sits in front of a window where the sun streams through all the livelong day & I feared what this may have done to the oiled parts.  I opened it up, threaded it, & took a scrap piece of fabric to see how bad things were going to be.  To my amazement it purred like a kitten & the tension was, as my British friends would say, spot on!   Another blessing!!!

I was still a bit leery.  I mean honestly, it couldn't be this easy!  I proceeded to sew up one of my stitching finishes.  I chose something I wasn't in love with just in case it got ruined in the process.  The sewing went very well!

I finished the stitching into a little pinkeep ... or maybe an ornament.  It could be either/or or even neither/nor.  Basically it's a little pillow stuffed with sawdust.  I decided to "do a Marly" & glue the seam closed using Liquid Stitch.  I knew I had bought a tube of this product not long ago & I also knew it would probably be in the pie safe with a few other supplies/accessories for my crafting pursuits.  I looked in the pie safe.  It wasn't there.  I then looked around the diningroom where some of my crafting supplies reside.  Nothing.  I looked inside the dry sink & inside the china cupboard.  I knew I wouldn't have put it there & I indeed came up empty.  I looked again in the pie safe. Nothing.  I then went upstairs.  I looked around the craft room.  Nothing.  I looked inside craft boxes.  Nothing.  I then went into the guest bedroom where ... you guessed it ... more crafting supplies abound.  Nothing again.  I opened the hallway closet that is used to store some other crafting supplies. More nothing.  I went back into the craft room & looked inside the treadle drawers & inside the sewing box.  Still nothing.  This was driving me crazy!  I KNEW I bought that Liquid Stitch when John & I visited Walmart a couple weeks ago.  Where did it go?  Now I was going to have to drag myself to Walmart to buy it again!

I went back to the hallway closet & grabbed a bottle of Aleene's Tacky Glue.  Marly did not say this was a good substitute but what other choice did I have but to jump in the car & drive to WM which was not going to happen.  Well, let me tell you what Marly did not ... Aleene's Tacky Glue is not a good substitute for Liquid Stitch.  Not a good substitute at all.  It was, in fact, totally useless.  I ended up having to stitch the opening of the pinkeep/ornament/little pillow together anyway.  Because I have avoided finishing anything for such a long time, my big Herman Munster hands felt like they were all thumbs.  The finishing looked a bit TOO primitive.  I decided to add some chenille trim to the edges.  This was another Herman Munster experience but it turned out pretty good in the end. 

On Tuesday I started an old Mary Garry design which stipulated the use of some rather funky DMC colors.  I looked up finished stitchings online & all the photos I saw looked as though the person doing them had substituted some if not all of the colors. Naturally the winner of Miss OCD for almost 59 years running now (me) could not do that. I had to at least try the colors that Mary painstakingly decided were best.  Things looked pretty good until I got to where I needed to use the white & flesh colored flosses.  They were totally lost on the background fabric I chose.
You can't see the white/flesh colored threads in this photo because I had already removed them.  I had decided to take before & after photos & this is the before one.  I decided to overdye the whole shebang by dipping it in a coffee mixture & baking it in the oven a few times.  The after results are somewhat iffy.  I'm not even going to show you a photo of what this piece looks like now. Hopefully the end result will be a good one & I won't have totally ruined things.  

Notice the black buttons & shoes?  I stitched these on yesterday before I took the photo. I noticed that I did not have black floss included in the group of flosses I pulled for this design.  An oversight on my part.  I opened up the pie safe to get the black floss & do you want to take a guess at the first thing that caught my eye?


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hot Chocolate

I recently mentioned the hot chocolate machine my husband gifted to me last year. I had devised "the perfect recipe" for hot chocolate but neglected to write it down somewhere.  I realized this a week or two ago when the first cool morning arrived in the devil's playground.  I got the machine out of the cupboard & thought "what now?"  I took a guess & that first mug of HC was pretty good.  A tad too chocolaty perhaps but drinkable.  I'll ease up on the dark chocolate next time.

My next attempted recreation was white hot chocolate.  I didn't recall expending much effort on this version last year.  Milk & chopped Ghirardelli white chocolate.  It seemed to be missing a little something though but it was likewise drinkable.  Not enough white chocolate perhaps?

I decided this afternoon to treat myself again but really "go wild" with the experimentation.  Milk?  Check.  Ghirardelli white chocolate?  Check.  But this time I added a bit of stevia sweetener & half a teaspoon of french vanilla extract.  Hot lusciousness!

Do you see the thick foam on top?  That is what this wonderful hot chocolate machine gives you!  

I notice that I have a couple new followers! Welcome!  I'm very glad you stopped by to visit & decided to keep coming !  Many hugs to my regular followers as well   : )

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Has Anyone Stitched This LHN Ornament?

You all gotta know that this ornament has my name written all over it!  Not literally of course but I do love-love-love hot chocolate so this is a "must have" for my tree   : )   I am having a problem with it though.  The pattern calls for WDW Wool in Chestnut.  I have found a couple sites where I can supposedly purchase WDW Wool in Chestnut but it looks nothing like what's shown on the model.  It is very, very dark & there's no checkerboard effect to it.

I've tried using various shades of linen but either the white floss does not show up or the brown floss does not show up.  This is a real dilemma.  If you've stitched this ornament, what fabric did you use?

Big DUH moment for me!  
I have been made aware that the WDW Wool in Chestnut wool is actually the finishing fabric... not the stitching fabric!  The stitching fabric is 28 ct Tin Roof Gingham.
Please excuse my brainless misreading of the chart.  

I have been stitch-stitch-stitching.  I know. Just what I need ... more stuff that will need finishing.  What can I say?  I'm addicted   : )   

It is very windy outside right now.  The weatherman says that we might have a big storm later today.  I sure hope so.  I do love me a good storm   : )   I worked this morning to catch up on my insurance paperwork.  All the while I kept thinking how most of it is going to be sent back to me because the codes are missing (although they are in plain sight on the invoice) or the doctor's address is not shown (again in plain sight on the invoice).  I wish I had a quarter for every reason they come up with to bounce claims back to me time & time again.  Ah well.  The important thing is that, for now, I am basically caught up.  I just need one piece of info from my doctor's office tomorrow & that will be the end of it.  For now.  

John & I are celebrating fall today with my famous killer potatoes.  
And I wonder why I could be a stand-in for a barn!  If you missed the illustrated step-by-step recipe I posted at Easter time & are interested in seeing how to make them, you can click here & then click here (had to do a 2-parter).  These are the plain variety of killer potatoes but you can add extras like bacon, onions, eggs, or whatever you'd like to fancy them up a bit although they really don't need it   : )

Have a wonderful day, one & all   : )

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The 9 Levels of Hell & How They Relate to Cross Stitching

Actual levels in heaven & hell are not addressed in the Bible.  For example, if you one day find yourself within the gates of hell, you will not step into an elevator & hear something like "4th Floor, Murderers & Adulterers."  The level reference can be traced back to the imagination of Dante Alighieri in his famous poem Divine Comedy, the first part of that poem being Inferno.  To oversimplify, Dante describes 9 levels of hell as being concentric circles, each level or circle increasing in, well, hellishness until you find satan in Level 9.

If this were true, I know without a doubt that living in central Kentucky would be Level 8, but what about the other 7 levels?  I can't help but think the next 2 levels would be as follows:

Level 7 - Here the demons will howl with maniacal laughter as they bring you floss, needles, fabric, & charts which require you to stitch more french knots than there are stars in the heavens.  No cross stitches, mind you.  No half crosses or back stitches.  Just french knots.

Level 6 - Here you would have satan's minions constantly bringing you cross stitched items to finish into ornaments, pinkeeps, cupboard tucks, etc.

Levels 6 & 7 are probably interchangeable. At this moment the remaining 5 levels are up for grabs.

Can you guess that I started work on some finishing today?  A week or two ago I estimated that I must have about 2 dozen stitched items to finish into ornaments or pinkeeps or whatever else you can think of. A few days ago, after a week of prolific stitching, I upped that estimate to 3 dozen. Well, I went upstairs this morning filled with good intentions.  I uncovered my stitched projects awaiting finishing & began to press them.  I counted as I pressed.  My heart grew heavier & heavier as the number climbed.  I finished counting at 42.  42!!! Did those little elves or fairies I've mentioned in the past decide to stop by & stitch up a storm just to see me run for the Xanax bottle?  Well, hold on to your hats because I then noticed something odd sitting on a box where nothing should've been sitting.  I went over to investigate.  It was 9 more stitched items ready to be finished!  That's 51!!!

How in the world am I going to finish 51 stitched items (52 if you count the one in progress in my Q-Snap right now) when I detest finishing?!?!?

I turned off the iron, headed downstairs & baked a batch of sugar cookies & then whipped up a batch of brownies.  The sugar cookies got burned & they taste like feet. The verdict isn't in regarding the brownies.  They are still cooling in the pan.  

I wonder if 51 of my dearest friends & most beloved family members would like a "Finish It Yourself Cross Stitch Kit" for Christmas?  I could fill some sort of decorative bag or box with FIYCSK supplies which would include a completed stitched item, a backing fabric, a little baggie full of batting or sawdust, & a sheet of directions!  Who wouldn't love to find something like this under their tree?!?!? Okay, nobody would.  I don't have 51 dear friends or beloved family members anyway. Damn!

I don't think I can accomplish anything else today.  I think I'm in shock.  I need to be kept calm.  Perhaps I'll try to ignore the horrific reality of this morning & instead do something to relax.  Perhaps read a book while I munch on what will hopefully be yummy brownies.  I have 2 Miss Read books that I got for Christmas last year.  Miss Read is my favorite author.  I've never read these 2 particular books.  They are both Christmas books & I decided last year that I wanted to wait to read them until this next Christmas season.  In retrospect that was probably a dumb thing for me to decide to do because I may have died already this year & then I would have gone to my grave without having enjoyed them!  Anyway, Miss Read's characters don't do cross stitching. They have no worries about finishing or french knots.  Lucky fictional folk!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Cross Stitch Gods ... Nice Guys, or Sick Sense of Humor?

Good morning!

Before I begin my speech about the cross stitch gods, I must say that it is a lovely morning!  Not as lovely as it could be of course, like this ...

or this ...
or even this ...
but lovely just the same.  Lovely for the devil's playground anyway.  The temp right now is 46 degrees. I am wearing a "winter shirt" (long sleeved knitted henley) & my furry bedroom slippers & I'm still chilly!  I'm actually shivering!  We don't have a fireplace (I'm heaving a big sigh of regret as I type this) but I do have candles that smell like logs burning in a fireplace & I can light one of those & stand in front of the open oven door.  You make do with what you have   : )   I have decided that today is the day to break out the hot chocolate machine.  John bought it for me last year & it is one of my best gifts ever!  I will give it a go after John decides to crawl out of bed.  I'm rushing the hot chocolate season a bit but I've decided that a-rushing I will go.  Unfortunately I realized the other day that I've forgotten the hot chocolate recipe I created last year. Why in the world I didn't write it down someplace is beyond me.  Now I have to try to recreate it.  I know I use unsweetened dark chocolate bars (Ghirardelli) & some unsweetened chocolate powder & I adapt it a bit to be diet friendly (skim milk & packets of Stevia) but I forget the ratios.  I guess I'll have fun experimenting   : )

I have been stitching up a storm.  I don't want to brag but last week I finished stitching 7 ornaments!  This truly isn't bragging because they were quick stitches ... primitive things stitched 1 over 2 & I don't think the designs included even 100 stitches so definitely no bragging rights here.  They were/are, however, lots of fun to stitch & I'm still stitching them   : )

I also finished stitching my exchange piece that I mentioned a while back ... the one where the designer snuck in some specialty stitches.  You may recall me telling you about how especially sneaky this designer was regarding these stitches.  The model in the photo on the chart leaflet was taken from a distance which made it quite small. You really couldn't see the detail.  I foolishly did not open the leaflet to look over the directions ... I just bought it based on the model photo alone.  I won't be making that mistake again, let me tell you!  I did not even notice the specialty stitches when I made myself a working copy of the chart, figured out where the center of the design was, & counted up to my starting point.  Nope ... I was nearing the end & that's when I noticed the specialty stitches.  I found myself some online tutorials & thankfully the stitches weren't very difficult.  They weren't bad at all really ... just a bit time consuming.  

I finished the specialty stitches & the final contribution the designer called for was the addition of a few buttons.  I didn't catch this either when I bought the chart or began it. Of course they were "specialty buttons" ... Just Another Button Company buttons, which I love.  They weren't anything fancy ... small little 2-colored squares ... but the designer wanted me to stitch on 7 of them & they were $1.70 each!  I thought, all things considered, that this exchange piece had gotten a bit out of hand but I consoled myself by imagining the gasp of utter delight my exchange partner would give when she unwrapped the piece & saw all the work I put into it.  

Enter the cross stitch gods' sick sense of humor.  When I saw those specialty stitches my heart sank but I consoled myself with the fact that at least they weren't french knots. I have written before of the animosity there is between me & french knots.  Well, the cross stitch gods got the last laugh when I noticed the notation next to the button placement directions.  Did I mention all the notations & directions in this chart leaflet were written really teeny-tiny?  Anyway, the button placement notation said "Attach buttons with colonial or french knots."  I almost lost it right then & there.  What kind of cruel, sick joke was this?!?!?  Attaching buttons with french knots!  

I know, I know ... I didn't have to stitch those specialty stitches.  I could've just made a bunch of Xs in those areas.  If I had tried the specialty stitches & failed, I certainly would've done just that.  Likewise I could've just ignored the colonial/french knots notation & sewed the buttons on as one would normally sew on buttons, but of course I have OCD & my OCD would not let me do this.  I had to at least attempt those blasted colonial/french knots.  First I tried the colonial knots.  I have had success with them in the past but not recently & certainly not with these stupid buttons.  I then decided to bravely give it the old college try & I went ahead & attempted to stitch them on with french knots.  You can guess how that worked out.  Finally I sewed on the buttons the normal way & you know what? It looks just fine.  Why in the world this designer wanted them to be stitched on with colonial or french knots is anyone's guess. Was she experiencing PMS that day or having a particularly bad menopausal mood swing?  Did a customer tick her off & she decided to punish us all?  Did she really, honestly think that stitching on buttons using colonial or french knots was a good idea?  

I have designed cross stitch patterns in the past & I will do so again in the future, but I will not under any circumstance give my devotees anything but little Xs to stitch.  I admit to having a warped sense of humor at times but I do not have a sick one.

Today I will be stitching more of the little ornaments I stitched last week.  I am stitching a total of 10 so I have 3 more to go. Sorry ... I can't show them to you just now.  I can, however, show you a couple RAKs I sent out recently.  They were for July, August, & September (I was a bit behind) & 2 of the ladies have received them so I can show you those.  The first one (a Pineberry Lane design) I sent to Chris at Tot Hill Farm Stitches & the second (a Pine Mountain kit project) I sent to Dawn at In Stitches.

I have more to share with you but this post is probably long enough   : )   I wish you all a fabulous week filled with many accomplishments & happy surprises.  Have you noticed my Christmas countdown thingie?  We now have 78 days till Christmas! I am smiling a great big smile as I write this even though the pressure is on, but it's Christmas pressure.  That's a good pressure  : )

I welcome all my new followers!  I'm really glad that you came to visit & decided to stay.  And as always I send big hugs to my continuing followers & thank you for coming back time & time again.  Your comments & friendship are real treasures   : )           

Friday, October 5, 2012

And the Winner Is ...

Maggee!  Maggee is the winner of my Lizzie*Kate giveaway!  Thanks to all who entered ... I wish you all could've won   : )

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Awesome Giveaway!

Brenda at The Rusty Thimble is hostessing an awesome giveaway for the holiday season! You will have a chance to win one of 24 prizes offered by various crafters who are all beyond generous in their donations! There are several ways that you can garner extra chances to win ... doing a blog post about the giveaway, adding the giveaway to your side bar, & more!  This has got to be the biggest giveaway production in history!  Click on the button below to find out more   : )

Here are the prizes you can win   : )

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Yours If You Want It

This morning I read yet another wonderful blog post by my friend Marly of Samplers & Santas fame.  Marly's blog posts are sometimes informative, sometimes hilarious, sometimes inspiring, & sometimes all 3.  The most recent post I'm referring to is most definitely inspiring.

Marly will not do anything unless she enjoys it.  She also will not force herself to do things the way someone else has determined they should be done.  She states that she has not always been like this.  She too was once anal about doing things in what someone else determined was "the proper way." However, the passage of time & all that comes with it ... joys, tragedies, MENOPAUSE ... made her decide to either march to her own drummer or not march at all.  She chose to march to her own drummer ... & all of us who know her love her for it.

It was strange for me to read this particular post of hers this morning because I have noticed myself changing over the past couple years.  Change is a bit difficult for anyone with a high level of OCD mixed with perfectionism.  As the old song states, I got it bad & that ain't good.  I won't go into all the aspects of my life where these traits fight for dominance.  For this post I will only focus on one area.  Cross stitching.

As many of you know, this is my 3rd life as a cross stitcher.  I wrote about this in a blog post last year when my 3rd life began (click here if you wish to read this post).  In my prior 2 cross stitching lives as well as as the beginning of this 3rd (& final) one, the OCD & perfectionism ran rampant.  Choose a different color floss than what the designer called for?  Never!  Use a different fabric ... maybe even a different count?  Unheard of!

Little by little I have mellowed.  Aging does that.  It mellows you.  It reveals to you the things that really matter.  Perhaps it's because you realize you don't have a lot of time left & you decide you don't want that time spent in worry, anger, & doing things you really don't want/have to do.  I'm not being maudlin here.  After all, I could have another 40 years ahead of me ... maybe more ... but the first almost 60 years have flown by & so I know the rest of them will fly by as well.

I've noticed since beginning this 3rd stitching life that I have taken what for me is a giant step toward doing things rather outside the box.  On more than one occasion I have substituted my own choice of fabric for the fabric recommended by the designer.  Once or twice I've changed a floss color or two. I've even taken to tying knots sometimes on the backs of my stitches to secure them rather than trying to hide the ends like we are "supposed to do."  There is even this one particular design that I am thinking of adding something to in order to make it more personal!  I'm still having a bit of trouble with substituting stitches that a designer calls for (curse those French knots!!!) but I'm working on it   : )

Yesterday I began a new stitch ... Lizzie*Kate's Come Let Us Adore Him.  I think L*K's designs are fabulous, but they really aren't "me."  I don't like "cutesy" & most of her stuff fits in that category.  I do, however, have quite a few of her charts & even a few of her kits.  I have these to stitch for others who adore her designs.

As I was saying, I began this L*K stitch yesterday.  My intention was to give it as a gift.  However, the more I stitched on it, the more I hated it.  I didn't really hate the design.  The stitching itself was going along nicely.  I just was not having any enjoyment stitching it at all.  Whereas in the past I would've continued stitching it with the mantra "finish what you start" repeating in my brain, last night I decided no.  Life is too short for me to be stitching something I am not enjoying.  Therefore I am not going to put one more stitch into this piece.  Not one. What I am going to do, however, is offer it to anyone who wants it.  I will give you the chart, the fabric with what I have finished stitching thus far, & the floss the design calls for.  Note that some of the floss skeins are slightly used.  I hope that is not a problem. So ... if anyone wants this, let me know & it's yours.  If more than one person indicates they want it, I will throw names in a hat & draw one out at the end of the week.  This offer is only for my current followers. Please do not make mention of it on your blogs.

I have a lot to do today ... this wonderful dark, gray, cool (for Kentucky), rainy first day of October ... one of which will be choosing a new stitching project.  I don't think I'll have any trouble finding one   : )