Monthly Archives: November 2007

gifted goodness

Today was another busy day of running around, but I think I got the last of Niek’s Christmas gifts and a replacement for the dear friend who was to receive Cardinal Blessings. Phew! I even got everything wrapped! And after being such a good girl, I thought it would be okay to open my mail. And what goodies I found there!!!

First of all, from Veronica – part of our wonderful NRR – a lovely handmade Christmas ornament and some gifts for Arden. Thank you so much, Veronica! I really didn’t expect that! I’ve had to hide the rattle from Rowen, who wanted to give it to her stuffed animals. ;)

And from another friend (also without a blog) and fellow Cyberstitcher, Jennifer, a snowman Christmas card and two skeins of Kreinik silk. Thank you, Jennifer!!

And my order from One Star’s Light arrived already! WOW – Jenna, how did you arrange that rocket-express delivery? As always, my order arrived looking much  more like a gift than an order. What lovely special touches! And Jenna included several freebie designs, including one from Peripheria that actually has me itching to stitch. Could it possibly the return of my stitching mojo? Because truth to tell, I haven’t had any interest in even picking up my needle this week.

It’s the final day of NaBloPoMo, or the daily posting. It’s been a great excercise for me and I was frankly surprised by how much there was to talk about and share. It’s been a very unusual month, though, with several very stressful events occuring. Thank you for sticking with me and for your support. Your friendship has brightened sad days and lifted my spirits and my sights to happier levels. Thank you!!!

all this and a contest, too

I’m sure most everyone has seen the beautiful design “Full of Hope” on other blogs, so don’t miss out on the contest being held by Stitch Pink to win your own! Many thanks to Marita for posting a link on her blog. :)

Yesterday I did stitch on a small project, though I got pitifully little done on it. As much comfort as I ultimately derive from stitching, I have to admit that there are times when I just don’t feel like it. I hadn’t picked up needle or floss since my frogging session over the weekend, and didn’t feel like it yesterday either, but I thought about what my therapist said about my tendency to retreat from everything when I’m not feeling too spiffy, blah blah, and decided that it would be a wise move to just do it. Hopefully today I will feel up to tackling the larger, time-sensitive projects that are beginning to loom over me – in particular, I’ve pulled out Karen’s Quaker. Cross your fingers – hopefully I’ll be using mine for stitching. ;)

I see that the orders from Jenna’s Black Friday sale are already showing up, and I received the confirmation that mine’s been shipped. Jenna, I hope you can hear my applause from over here. This is just such a huge difference from my usual experience of waiting 4 to 6 weeks after a sale ends before my order is even shipped. I seized the opportunity to purchase some of the CC silks, which Nicki says are as nice to work with as Gloriana silk. Can’t wait!

Although I haven’t been busy stitching the past couple of days, some more gifts that I sent out recently have arrived, including Carol’s (Angel of Tulips, by The Goode Huswife) and Cathy’s (Reindeer Garden by Threads through Time and The Gift by The Needle’s Prayse). Tomorrow is Cathy’s birthday, so I was quite relieved her gift arrived in time! And Rachael received her peacocks by Praiseworthy Stitches – with ribbon ruching around all four sides! ;) (This was the project for which I ran out of ribbon halfway through…)

Before I forget (again), I finished Keith Donahue’s novel “The Stolen Child” recently and it was … spell-binding. Has anyone else read this?

I’ve also heard from stitching friends across the globe that recent health issues have begun to resolve, which is always music to the ears and balm to the heart. For those still struggling, I wish you well! Hopefully the holidays will be a time of rejoicing for us all. :)

Today’s header picture is of Nicky’s first Christmas (he was 10 months old and stood up on his own for the first time on Christmas Day). Can you believe how young he and Max were?! And Rowen wasn’t even on the scene yet!

bootstraps and other metaphors

Thank you for your kindness – once again! My better half, who really is better, sacrificed a chess evening to stay home and keep me talking last night so that by the time I tumbled into bed, physically and emotionally exhausted, I was able to sleep very well and wake up feeling a bit more myself. Time … everything just takes time. I know we can adjust to anything, given enough time and patience from those around us.

This morning’s weather is not something to incite optimism, so I opened up the laptop and set about dealing with a last few Christmas gifts. I don’t honestly see how I’m going to finish Cardinal Blessings in time and I don’t relish the thought of stressing out over it, so I need to arrange something different for that dear friend. And Niek managed to convince me a few days ago that a hand-held game system really is a good gift for Max, so to offset my misgivings on that, I’ve rounded out his stashy-stitchy gifts to include a piece of 14 count opalescent aida from Silkweaver. The current color on special happens to be one of his favorites, and I know he’ll go bug-eyed at the pretty sparkles. I’ve also gotten him his own Q-snap, a set of large needles, bobbins and stitch bows,  and a floss storage box. My dear friend Sara is sending some of the lovely DMC varigated colors, so he’ll be all set. :)

Although I’ve decided to set aside Cardinal Blessings, I do still have some commitments to tie up. But … I don’t feel quite up to the big stuff right this moment, so I’m going to stitch up something small and get a rush from that and then move back on to the bigger stuff.

To keep in the holiday spirit, you’ll notice that my header photo will be changing frequently. I thought it would be fun to put up pictures from holidays past. Goodness knows that this shutterbug has loads of photos to choose from, and hopefully you’ll enjoy the sneak peeks into Christmases past. :)

a rough day, but some cheery photos

Friends, I’m sorry that today’s post is pretty short on content. It’s been a rough day (more details at my other blog), but I wanted to leave you with some cheery pictures of us singing Sinterklaas songs last night. Even the animals got into the act, as you can see. ;)

Wishing you joy and good health!

taking stock

Once again, Annemarie has inspired me in my stitching endeavors. She’s a marvel, huh? :)  In her last post, she was talking about stitching for herself and clearing out her stack of UFOs and WIPs … brilliant idea, isn’t it? I know 100% for certain that I couldn’t stick to stitching only for the family, even though I should make that a priority, but the WIP/UFO comment really hit home. Mine have been gnawing away at me – if I weren’t having pregnancy anxiety dreams, no doubt I’d be dreaming about being buried in partially-completed stitching projects!

So I sat down before bed and made a list of my current UFOs (projects I haven’t touched for at least a month) and WIPs (those that I have touched, LOL) and roughly grouped them by those I felt compelled to finish, felt obligated to finish, and doubted I would finish even if I had nothing else to do for the rest of my days.

Here are my WIPS – you’ll see that the stitching is actually done on two of these, but they haven’t been finished. My finishing muse ran off on me, leaving me as empty of ideas as a bowl of oatmeal porridge. (Is there anything less inspiring than cooked oatmeal porridge?)

And here is my UFO stack. There are 15 projects here ranging from about 5% done to about 60% done. Four are projects that fall into the ‘must finish’ category because they’re either gifts or are projects that I really like. Seven fall under the ‘ought to’ category either because they’re so far along or because I promised them to someone. And four fall under the ‘why bother’ category because I’ve made a serious mistake, no longer like the colors, or am dismayed by the stitching itself.

There are also a few projects that are currently in progress: Karen’s Quaker sampler and Cardinal Blessings. Here are pictures of them as they stand at this minute. Karen’s needs frogging – that last ‘ram’s head’ is off by one row. I frogged a few rows from Cardinal Blessings yesterday before giving up in disgust – this is not a project that combines well with Play-Doh/tea parties and inquisitive children. (Note to myself: Though it’s not here, I also have to include my Lottery project in this group!)

When I gave up on stitching yesterday, I turned my frustrated energy to cleaning – something I’ve done precious little of because of the horrible effect it has on my pulled muscle, weak back, and other pregnancy-related ailments. (Sorry to sound like such a whiner!) I did about 5 loads of laundry (it’s just scary to realize that we even own that much stuff) and totally tore the nursery apart and reassembled it in a clean & tidy fashion. I’ll spare you the laundry shots, but here’s a very quick peek into Nicky and Rowen’s room. Sure, it may not look like much to anyone who hasn’t seen it in the past two months, but you have to imagine that you couldn’t see the chair, floor, or bureau for all the toys and clothes flung wildly hither & yon. Embarassing? You can’t even begin to guess … but I paid the price when I tried to lay down last night and cried  like a baby because everything hurt so much. It was worth it though, when the kids got up and Nicky said, “My room looks so nice,  Mum, that I’m going to pick up all my toys in the living room while you make breakfast.” And he did!

There are documents to write today, so I doubt any stitching will be done. I am now holding myself accountable for these WIPs and UFOs, though! There will be more on them in the weeks to come – you’ve been warned! ;)

Thank you for your incredibly kind comments about the gifties that have begun arriving at their rightful destinations. Those post office trips may be little forays into one of Dante’s outer rings, but it’s so nice to surprise dear friends across the globe. I hope your Monday is off to a great start, full of sunshine (the real kind or the metaphorical kind!) and that you have a happy week stretching out before you!

gifts – in the making and in the receiving

Thanks to a wonderful better half who does the shopping and the cooking on the weekends (and to anyone wondering, yes, he does have brothers but I got the best one in the bunch!) I’ve been able to get some stitches into Cardinal Blessings and Niek assures me that even though it’s very tiny, the design is still clear. Have you ever tried a design over one just to discover that the design comes out looking like blots on the linen? I have – and what a disappointment that is! But this time, it looks like it’ll work out. What do you think?

What I’ve done has come at the cost of working on Karen V’s Quaker. They’re both projects that require pretty good lighting and reasonable concentration. But as I figure, the Quaker is due 15 December, whereas the Cardinal is a Christmas gift, so I’d really like to get that out ASAP. I don’t know if it will be in time for Christmas, though. 

Speaking of Christmas, I don’t understand how it’s possible that I was actually doing so well staying on track and then all of a sudden the holiday is only a few weeks away and I’m not finished (some things never even got started!). Oh well, I’ll try to console myself that at least I got a few ornaments out to a few very special friends this year. Hopefully I’ll do a bit better next year!

But speaking of gifts and ornaments, a few have arrived that I sent out during my my latest postal exploits. Have I mentioned how much I dislike going to the post office? LOL! Am I alone in that? Is it a Dutch thing? A Barbara thing?

Anyway, here is Zack’s heart, which really should’ve been stitched, finished and sent out months ago, but at least it got there before he asked to borrow the car keys. ;) This is a freebie design from The Workbasket, and the alphabet I used to personalize it is from Here be Wyverns.

And Dianne’s birthday gift, which did not make it on to a rocket, but wasn’t too awfully terribly embarassingly late. You may recognize this as Mary Kirby’s Home, which I did as a SAL with Max when he also stitched the design. I thought it was so perfect for Dianne and she has assured me that she likes it. The bookmark is by Mosey N’ Me. (The floss wasn’t part of the gift, just part of the picture.)

There are also some ornaments that have made their way safely to the UK and to some very special ladies there: Su, Veronica, and Karen V (in the order shown).

There are a staggering amount of people for whom I wanted to make a little something, but … I still can’t  stitch fast enough! Please forgive me and don’t for a nanosecond think that I care less simply because I couldn’t make something for you. I have so many special friends, and you’ve so enriched my life … I don’t know where I’d be without you!!!

And thank you for your kind words regarding my family’s sad run of losses and illness. I know there are a lot of other families out there facing as bad, or worse, and my heart goes out to you.

Oh, and the kids! They were so good, playing in their room till excused to go check their shoes for treats – and then what squeals!!! Nicky and Rowen both received a chocolate initial – Max’s gift was wrapped so we’ll have to wait till he arrives home tonight to see what he got. ;) (The pictures of Nicky and Rowen’s initials are post-first-bite, btw!)

sinterklaas is coming to town!

We got up a little late, and Sinterklaas’ boat arrived a little earlier this year, so after a bit of discussion, we decided to skip the parade (rather than trying to skip breakfast) – but if you’re interested, there are a couple of parade pictures from my post last year. We did go downtown so Nicky and Rowen could participate in the ‘Piet program’ and recieve honorary zwarte Piet diplomas. (Max is with his biological father this weekend and couldn’t come.) They had to complete four activities (horseback riding, roof climbing, tossing gifts down the chimney, and posing for pictures) and then they received a gift and a diploma. Great fun, and a really super program organized the downtown merchants & newspaper. The kids encountered numerous zwarte Pieten and were able to see Sinterklaas through the crowd at an indoor shopping center. (All pictures can be clicked for an enlargement.)

For a little more background on Sinterklaas, the kids will be able to set their shoes out tonight for a treat. Niek insists that we sing traditional Sinterklaas songs as we do this – a tradition I love because it’s so cozy and family-oriented, rather than the kids merely thinking about what little gifts they may be receiving. I have to admit that the songs sometimes tie my tongue in knots, but I do my best. ;)

I received the most gorgeous Christmas ornaments in the mail from my friend Reneé in France. I’ve mentioned her previously here, and although I know she prefers that her gifts remain private, I really have to show you a small sample of what she sent. I would also like to ask that you spare some positive thoughts for her, as she is very, very ill.

Sadly, it seems that illness is running rampant at the moment. My mom had the unhappy task of calling me last night to tell me that my cousin, who has suffered for many years from breast cancer (and other illnesses resulting from it), had passed awayyesterday and that our mutual friend and property manager, Bernadette, is waiting for hospice care. My step-aunt is also suffering a recurrence of breast cancer and is awaiting a series of unpleasant medical treatments. It seems that sadness knows no season. Please take a special moment today to contact those you love to make sure they know how much you care – we never know how long we will have together.

On a much less somber note, I have looked for solace from my stitching (again!) and am working on both Karen V’s Quaker RR and on a holiday gift for a dear friend (who hopefully has a lot of patience, because I don’t think it will be done in time!). The gift is Cardinal Blessings, by Imaginating, done over one on 27 count linen banding using DMC 115. I’ve been visited by the frog on both projects, which slows the progress but does not diminish the enjoyment. My camera battery is pretty empty right now, so you’ll have to wait for pictures on those. Sorry!

I’ve also received some fun mail from here & there. My bookmark exchange came in and my partner – despite the pressures of her own upcoming wedding! – found time to make this beautiful bookmark for me. I would love to hear more about how she did this! And she included some cinnamon gum, which is all for me-me-me as the kids find it too spicy. Yum!

And look what someone has anonymously sent me from Belgium! Who are you, secret Santa?? I’ve been lamenting the fact that despite my embarassing stash of floss, I cannot find the perfect Christmas green … and here it is! I’m consumed with curiousity as to who sent it, though – ‘fess up, you big-hearted helper!

I hope you’re enjoying a happy weekend! Thanks for sharing it with me!

stitchy goodness to share

Hello everyone! I hope there are no day-after turkey bellies out there. LOL! Though we did  not celebrate in the traditional manner, I made a big batch of pancakes for the kids to enjoy for dinner (with help from the kids) and the smells and the delight of the children really brought some happy childhood memories alive. The fact that the pancakes turned out perfectly didn’t hurt matters, either! I had a great time talking with my mom and dad, and hopefully I’ll catch up with my father and brother over the weekend – there’s a heck of a time difference between western Europe and the US Southwest that makes phone calls difficult to arrange.

The kids have a free day from school today due to a teachers’ study day, so we’re having fun with Play-Doh at the moment.  Sinterklaas arrives in Gouda tomorrow,  so it’s nice to have a play day here at home. The younger two kids are not quite old enough to get wild about the mere thought of Sinterklaas, and Max is a little too old, so it’s a restful year. Next year, though … A couple of people have asked about the Sinterklaas tradition here in the Netherlands, and I’ll be happy to fill in some blanks during the upcoming weeks.  To get you started:

A brief introduction to Sinterklaas 

During the year, Sinterklaas (based on a Catholic saint) lives in Spain with his helpers, who are zwarte Pieten (black Petes). Not exactly racially PC, the zwarte Pieten are dressed in Moorish costume with blackface – they’re mostly very comical, though ‘back in the old days’ they would also carry naughty children back to Spain in a burlap sack or would punish the children with bundled sticks. Yikes! Glad I arrived on the scene after that part of the legend was toned down! Anyway, about a month before pakjesavond (December 5th), Sinterklaas and his helpers start over from Spain to the Netherlands in a steam boat. The kids have a chance to start getting wound up good and early! Each year, the good Saint arrives in a different town or city and there’s a huge celebration to mark the beginning of the Sinterklaas holiday period, which culminates in a sort of kids’ party on the evening of December 5th. Our kids have to wait for the day that Sinterklaas arrives in our town before they’re allowed to set their shoes out for a gift – otherwise, there’s a full  month of begging and whining. We generally only allow the shoes to be set out on weekends, too, to further curtail the gimmies. ;) Anyway, once Sinterklaas arrives, the kids can set out a shoe at bedtime; during the night, Sinterklaas or one of the zwarte Pieten will set a treat in the shoe that the kids will find upon waking. The gifts are traditionally small, and candy or chocolate (particularly a chocolate initial for your name) is pretty popular. If I don’t forget my brains tomorrow, I’ll be sure to bring the camera tomorrow and share plenty of pictures of the big arrival here in Gouda.

Back to stitching!

I was beginning to think I was seriously cursed when it came to my ONS orders. Not only did I never receive a reply regarding the floss that was held out of my order, but I also received a half meter of linen in the wrong count from another ONS and then a partial order without explanation from yet another ONS. I was ready to throw in the towel!! But yesterday, even though it was a holiday, I received a very friendly reply from ABC Stitch Therapy regarding the linen, and Despina, from Daisy Stitches, searched down some missing orders of charts she’d never received from designers. I just want to say thank you very much to both businesses for their commitment to their customers! And without further ado, here is an embarassing shot of the stash I’ve received this month – be prepared to drool!

Now that you’re all softened up with your own case of the gimmies ;) I must remind you that today is the BIG DAY to order from Jenna’s ONS if you want to take advantage of a whopping 25% off everything! Jenna’s customer service is in a class all its own – she makes each order feel like a personal gift, she keeps shipping prices reasonable, and she’s fast!

To continue with the stitchy goodness, I have also received my completed Quaker RR and I’m just amazed. It’s gorgeous. It’s so much lovelier than I’d ever guessed it would be. I’m definately going to frame this and hang it somewhere where everyone can admire it. I chose Carrie’s Threads and went with a one-over-two on 40 count (or perhaps 36 ct – it’s a mystery piece from Niek’s grandmother) antique white linen. There are a few small motifs that are two-over-two to make it look more antique and irregular and just add to the overall charm. This was such a wonderful group to be part of – thank you all so very much!!! (Please click for the enlargement!)

I did work on Karen’s Quaker RR last night, but realized that I was off by a row somewhere in the last section I was doing – fortunately it’s a very small area that’s affected – but I need to figure out where I went off and do a bit of frogging. You’ll have to wait for a progress picture on it, but trust me when I say it’s a gorgeous piece. I really love Karen’s warm choice of colors. All the Quakers were so fun to work on, and all so different from each other!

The kids have drifted away from the Play-Doh and my stomach is telling me that lunchtime nears, so I’ll leave you for now. Thanks so much for coming to visit with me here – I hope your day is tops, and that you have a wonderful weekend stretching before you!

5 thanks-giving thoughts

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Sherry over at Blog It! came out with a great challenge: Name five things you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving and encourage your family to do the same. Well here are my five things (my dear friends are not on this list, but are in my heart!!!):

5. I’m thankful for the creature comforts in  my life – having gone long years without them, I really do value those little extras that make life so much more comfortable!

4. I’m thankful that I have loving relationships with all three of my parents, who are in good health, and that I enjoyed wonderfully loving relationships with my grandparents while they were here.

3. I’m thankful for my three wonderful, healthy, active, amazing, miraculous kids.

2. I’m thankful for the child growing within me and the chance to become a mother one last time.

1. I’m thankful that I’m sharing my life with someone who accepts me as I am while encouraging me to become what I can be.

I asked Max to come up with two things, but he’s having a bit of trouble with that – he seems to have suddenly blossomed into self-consciousness and everything is potentially embarassing.

Over here in the Netherlands, this is just another Thursday – a Thursday of  more homesickness than usual, though. I had hoped that I’d feel up to making a nice dinner anyway, but standing long periods in the kitchen (or anywhere else) just isn’t in the cards this year. Next year, however, I’m  looking forward to a full table of hungry, noisy kids. :D My Mom plans to spend the day with her sisters on Mount Desert Island. My father and his wife are having a houseful of around 20 people, including my brother and his family. My dad and Mary are celebrating with family of Mary’s in Florida. I’ll drift from full table to happy heart in spirit if not in reality. ;)

I broke out the Christmas CDs yesterday while the kids were ‘artsing and craftsing’. When I was in college, I put myself through (loan-free!) by working retail and I came to truly loathe holiday music. Hours, days, weeks on end of it while I worked in the mall and in local restaurants. Ugh! But that was all years ago (quite a few years, come to think of it!) and of course I can pick my music for here at home (I have much better taste than the muzak geeks at the Maine Mall in South Portland, I have to say!), so the past couple of years have seen me sinking into a tranquil holiday haze with my collection of Christmas music – I’m particularly fond of the oldies-but-goodies from the 40’s and 50’s. I’m not sure how it’s possible to be nostalgic for a time that pre-dates my own existence, but there you have it.

Plenty of stitchy goodness promised for tomorrow – my Quaker RR has arrived and it is gorgeous! And I’ve received some stash in the mail, too. Oh boy!!

I wish I could personally say Happy Thanksgiving to my wonderful friends and family, but I hope that your day – however and wherever you spend it – is touched by grace, love, and gratitude!

how fast does time pass?

I thought, in the back of my mind, that the daily posting this month might slow time down a bit (or give the feeling of time passing more slowly, to be more accurate) but here we suddenly are at Wednesday again. It put me in mind of something Rowen recently said when we told her it was bedtime: She stood over in front of the clock – to double-check us, we thought – and then turned around with an exasperated sigh and said, “That thing doesn’t work – it just goes round and round all day!” ;)

Anyway, Wednesdays are ‘kid days’ from noontime on, and I worked like a dog to finish the editing of a very messy document from 8 till noontime, so I think we could count the stitches I’ve put into Karen’s Quaker round robin without seriously straining the little gray cells. Nonetheless, here’s my progress picture.

During the one hour I had for stitching, the kids were busy ‘artsing and craftsing’ (as I think of it). Nicky made me a rocket ship diamond that I can pin to my shirt, perhaps drawing attention away from my hippo-sized belly. Rowen made a mess and didn’t mind anyone calling it that. LOL. Max put that new box of crayons to great use and colored this for Sinterklaas, the Dutch Christmas-type celebration that culminates in a gift-giving party the evening of December 5th.  

Though the editing was painful in the extreme – there is a very good reason I got out of technical editing as fast as I could – it’ll help slide those bank figures from red to black again. Though I try to space my Christmas shopping out over much of the year, my poor bank account always takes a hard hit around now. If only I could convince Arden to give me a bit more time behind the PC …

Thank you so much for your input regarding my lighting situation. There are a lot of happy Ott light consumers out there, but also a lot of practically-minded people who’ve discovered perfectly satisfactory workarounds. My current setup with the halogen light gives me plenty of wattage to see what I’m doing, but as I mentioned, the light gets hot and you can totally forget any sort of accuracy with colors. I’ve also been looking for some sort of magnification solution for about a year now because I love higher count linens and don’t particularly like stitching on white or off-white. So some sort of daylight-lamp (with a magnifier) that stays cool seemed like the answer to all those stitchy prayers.  ;) I’ve been watching the sale at Joanne’s, and if I lived in the US, I wouldn’t think twice about ordering right now – not only are the lights on sale, but the shipping is free. WOW! Unfortunately, shipping to Europe is considerable. I haven’t made my mind up yet, but thank you all very much for your comments! When I finally do make a decision, I’ll be sure to let you know. LOL!

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