Monthly Archives: May 2008

it’s a great big hug from far away

You’ve all heard me talk about my friend Sara – she taught me how to cross stitch, to mention one of the very many ways she’s made my life better – so even though she doesn’t (yet) have a blog, hopefully you feel you know her. :)

Yesterday, a very surprised mailman delivered a very large box to our house. You could see how curious he was about it. He may deliver a fair amount of small packets, but he’d not seen anything of these dimensions other than around Christmas time. I got the distinct feeling he was hoping I’d open it right in front of him – LOL! But I waited till I’d gotten the okay from Sara, and then until Niek and I could open it together. And what a shock! Look what Sara made for our wee Arden, and look at how much he likes it!

arden with Sara's birth gift_best

Arden’s still sleeping in our room, and probably will till near the end of the summer, so until he gets his own room (which is currently Max’s room), we’re hanging it in the living room where everyone can enjoy it. :D

In addition to the gorgeously stitched and framed sampler, she sent Arden his very first mailart! Can you believe how adorable this is? It makes me itch to do an MA … but there are many projects that need to be wrapped up first. (I have to admit that it takes me ages to put together a good MA.)

Arden's envelope from Sara_address blocked

Arden's envelope from Sara back

Sara is family-of-the-heart – my kids call her Grammy Sara – and our time with her and her husband Ken was one of the high points of our last visit home to Maine. I’ve known Sara since I was 18 and it’s simply not possible to list all the ways that she’s made my life happier and helped me to become a better person. She’s truly an angel on earth, and I hope she knows it! I love you, Sara!!

i’ve been a bad blogger

There’s no real excuse for my on-again/off-again blogging these last couple of weeks; like anything else, I guess blogging is subject to waxing and waning cycles. I haven’t done much stitching (none, actually, since my last post) and I’ve been a bit … well, distracted … by my physical image. Ugh. Thinking of banning mirrors in the house …. But anyway, I have been reading up on what everyone’s doing and enjoying myself greatly in that respect. I’ve also been busy with the kids, and the kids have just been busy! LOL! Here are three of my wee beasties – Rowen with her newest snail, which boasts a yellow shell, Nicky hamming for the camera, and Arden enjoying a good read. ;) Max is at an age where it’s a little harder to get a picture of him – teenage years are lurking just around the corner. Sigh.

Rowen and her newest snail

Nicky hamming for the camera

never too young to read 2

Although I don’t have a picture of Max to share, I do have one of the lovely gift he made me for Mother’s Day. The design is totally his own, and he made the “mat” that surrounds the stitching, too. :D

stitched mother's day gift from  max

The mailman has become my newest best friend. I received a wonderful Act of Kindness gift from Anne, who took pity on my attempts to make my own decorative pins and sent me literally hundreds of gorgeous pins. I can’t wait to get started on some pinkeeps! I love making pinkeeps, but haven’t done so because of the impossibility of finding pretty pins in my area. Thank you, Anne!!! :D

RAK birthday gift from AnneS

I don’t know where the hours in the day go, but I see it is high time that I get dinner underway. I hope everyone is looking forward to a wonderful weekend! :D

time, if not my needle, is flying

As much as I love the 3-day weekends we’ve recently had, they do wreck havoc with my sense of time. I’m working on two projects, but I recently realized that I have three more – with deadlines – too rapidly approaching. Yikes! I’m only worried about the 4th of July exhange; my patterns are either too big or too primitive. Sigh.

Here’s where I ran out of burnt umber NPI on Thine Forever. Till the new skein arrives, I’ll fill in leaves and flowers. Definitely not a hardship. This one really is a joy to stitch.

Thine Forever end of burntumber

And here’s where I am with Fair Kind True by Midsummer Night Designs. Please overlook the horrible photo – it’s nighttime and the colors in this are actually really gorgeous, but my camera can’t make sense of them in artificial lighting. ;)

FairKindTrue WIP

I did some housework this morning – don’t faint! – and re-arranged several of my smalls that cannot be hung for display. Now if I can just keep Rowen from rearranging them for me….

stitching smalls display

Now it’s time to wake my stitching buddy for his final feeding of the day, and then we’ll stumble off to bed. :)

Arden's getting big

Wishing you a wonderful day!

when people are wonderful

My Mother’s Day began wonderfully – and has continued in that same vein all day. Rowen and Nicky gave me strict instructions at breakfast time that I was not to do any work other than “sewing and putering”. ;) Niek surprised me with a huge bouquet of flowers, the kids had all made gifts (Max’s included some stitching, which I will share in a future post), and Niek gave me a memory card for my camera. Hooray!

mothers day 2008 breakfast table

After a leisurely morning and early afternoon, we went for a walk in the Reeuwikjse Bos after the worst heat of the day had passed. It was a scorcher today! We limited our walk to just over an hour, as the kids and dog were sort of sagging from the heat, but it was nice to get out. I saw wild geese, swans, and ducks with ducklings. And four really cute kids.  ;)

mothers day ReeuwijkseBos wild geese closeup

mothers day Nicky and Rowen

I haven’t done too much stitching for the past couple of days – I did mention that it had been hot, right? ;) I don’t like stitching with sweaty hands, especially when it’s a project that can’t be washed. However, Thine Forever is slowly coming along, as you can see here.

ThineForeverWIP with color

I finally had the chance to call ABC Stitch Therapy, where I had a small store credit, and ask about having that pesky skein of NPI 584 sent to me in a regular letter envelope instead of paying $10 or so for international shipping … and not only did they agree, but they’ve already sent it! Thank you Marie, and the rest of the great staff there at ABC Stitch Therapy! :D I’m relieved that I’ll be able to finish this design in the charted colors.

And to acknowledge more wonderful people, thank you for sharing your online fabric buying tips with Sara! I just love how everyone is so helpful and generous with each other. :D

I hope everyone is either having a wonderful Mother’s Day or making your own mom’s Mother’s Day memorable, or a bit of both. ;) I’ve spoken with my Mom and we enjoyed an imaginary trip to Bangor, a luncheon at The Olive Garden, and a long browse at Borders, finishing up with a cup of hot, flavored cofffee before undertaking the long drive back Downeast. ;)

Here’s Arden, showing us how to keep cool in the heat. ;)

mothers day 2008 cool arden

share your experience

Hi everyone! Not much to say or to share as I’ve been soaking up every moment of sunshine that I can … one never knows how long it may last. And when I’ve not been out in the sun, expanding my collection of freckles, I’ve had my nose deeply immersed in Voyager. Yay! Claire made it back! I’m so happy! :)

But it’s a serious matter that brings me out of my novel this evening: My friend Sara (in the US) is looking for a reliable ONS where she can place a fabric order. My own experiences, before going on the wagon, were not much to go by, so I’m asking you where’s the best place to order linen online and actually get what you ordered and within a reasonable time frame? Thanks!!

To reward you for your efforts, I can show off Dutch Beast! It arrived in today’s mail, so Tracy surely tied it to a rocket! The reading material that goes with it is fascinating – for a taste of it, go check out the website. I’m actually thinking of ordering the VC silks to do this in … I could claim it as a birthday gift or a Mother’s day gift, couldn’t I? ;0

DutchBeast chart

And lastly, a peek at a new project, just to show I’ve done a little bit of stitching now and then between the sun rays.

KindTrueFair WIP

a walk in the park, sort of

Over breakfast this morning, the kids asked for picnic lunch after school … since we were without a car anyway, it seemed like a great idea to combine the rather long walk to/from school with a picnic at the park just behind the school grounds. When I picked the kids up, I found Max being hovered over by a persistent Dutch lass who wanted to join in our sunshiney fun. After some effort to track down her phone number to ask her mom’s permission, everything was arranged and we headed off. There’s a big “spiderweb” climbing rack at the park, and before I knew it, both my boys were shimmying up and down it like a couple of monkeys, with their blonde goddess watching from beneath coyly lowered lashes. It was hard to stop laughing long enough to get a picture. Boys!

GroeneIsland with Tessa boys climbing

Rowen didn’t really see the need to impress Max’s friend, so she decided to perform a dance routine for me – which I quite enjoyed!

a fairy sprite dance

After awhile, Max and his friend wandered off, and I took this far-off photo because they just looked so young and so old all at the same time. Girls discovered Max nearly two years ago, but it appears that Max has just noticed them back rather recently.

GroeneIsland with Tessa and Max

Through all the birds and bees antics, Arden was happy to gaze up into the treetops and smile wetly at me. The very summery weather gave him the perfect opportunity to model an adorable outfit that Helen sent us not long after his birth. And which, to my shame, I’ve not shown a picture of until now. Helen, he’s so cute in this outfit that if he weren’t mine, I’d be tempted to steal him! Thank you so much!

Arden wearing clothes from Helen aka Lenalou

And speaking of mail goodies, this one is much more recent – today’s postal delivery, in fact. You may remember my wee biscornu made for an exchange about a month ago … well, today mine arrived. To my delight, Outi sent me a biscornu of her own (unpublished) design – isn’t it lovely?! :D She also included some very yummy Dinky Dye’s silk in a gorgeous blend of purples and blues called Blue Mountains. Thank you, Outi!

Flossmoms Biscornu Exchange from Outi

perilous potatoesTonight when I made dinner, I was very heedful of Anna’s recent kitchen injury – I sliced these potatoes with the utmost of care! No missing body parts to report. ;) I don’t have a mandolin, but use a cheese slicer to get those paper thin slices. It works pretty well.

Some stitching was accomplished today, but precious little. Even if it were not a secret project (which it is), it wouldn’t be enough to warrant a WIP photo. I also didn’t get much done last night on Thine Forever because (1) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was on TV, and (2) my mom called and talked for quite awhile about work woes. Maybe I’ll get more done tonight … cross your fingers.

Volumes three through five in the Gabaldon Outlander series have arrived, and I’ve started Voyager. When do Claire and Jaimie get back together? Do they?? No, don’t tell me!!! ;)

a sunny tuesday update

It’s another gorgeously sunny day.  And the kids have been back in school so it was blissfully quiet. :0

Arden’s been having trouble sleeping from 3 till 7 a.m. lately, and that combined with having all the kids home for a little over a week kind of took a toll on me. So instead of going to visit a friend in Delft this morning as I’d planned to do, I took a raincheck and instead did all my errands and housework that had not gotten done during the past few days. But we did the errands slowly – walking instead of driving whenever possible. I just love these sunny days! On our way back from walking to the bank, I even saw the first duckling of the season! What is cuter than a baby duck? :)

Today was Nicky’s first meeting for “Book Beasties” – a sort of pre-reading group for kids of about 5 years old. We went to the library yesterday to try to set the mood. He was a little nervous about it at breakfast, but by the afternoon, when it was time to go, he was his usual irrepressible, enthusiastic self. It turned out they didn’t do much with books, but he had a blast anyway. ;)

Thank you all so much for your too-kind comments over my play-with-clay attempts yesterday! I’ve read that you can varnish Fimo after it has baked to give it a nice shine … does anyone know about this? I didn’t see anything like clay varnish at the hobby store, but I would like to ‘shine up’ the finished products so the glitter in the clay shows up better.

I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around at making some very simple cross stitch patterns using this freeware program. While not suitable for photographs or large projects, it is at least a good jumping-off point for smaller/simpler designers. Look what resulted from a Curious George birthday invitation – obviously, I won’t be using the scores of suggested DMC colors, but I love to pick colors anyway. Somebody we know and love has a birthday coming up in only 7 1/2 months … one can never begin brainstorming too early! LOL!

curios george

Eventually last night I managed to settle down long enough to do a little bit of stitching on Thine Forever. Have I mentioned how much I love working on this? ;)
Thine Forever WIP 2

and now for something totally different

A little while ago, I provided a link to an etsy seller whose cross stitch artwork included the female reproductive system. Not to everyone’s taste, perhaps, but most certainly original. Last night I was wandering down some of the less well-lit pathways of cyberspace and visited the old site of Blog Green (now more menacingly named Radical Cross Stitch), which was full of links to different destinations, including this one, which I’d tried to tell another blogging friend about recently – but of course, I’d failed to bookmark the site and could only dither on about the cool samplers in a sort of pointless fashion. ;)

Kate Westerholt designs samplers that fly in the face of convention when it comes to the text bits. LOL. You’ll not find any tombstone angels exhorting you to remember this when I am dead and gone, but instead, you’ll be told to Get your freak on. Yeah, I like that one.

try something new each day

They say that it slows the aging process, particularly that slippery slope of mental decline, if you try something new every day. I can’t honestly say I come even close to that – most days are spent in a treadmill-type action of simply trying not to get too far behind the kids. ;) Today, though, I finally broke open the packet of Fimo Effects clay I’d bought a couple of weeks ago. My reason for buying it is because I’ve found it absolutely impossible to get decent-looking pins for pinkeeps here, and I’m not “allowed” to order any because I’ll apparently be on The Wagon till the trumpets sound…. So I tried making some decorative-headed pins and simple buttons. Simple … well, that’s open for debate. This stuff is sticky! And once it sticks to your hands, it then sticks to itself. And before you know it, you look like you’ve been squishing Smurfs barehanded. :0 But here is what I came up with:

fimo first attempts

The other new thing that I’m so happy to share is that after two years of great effort to win an Ink Circles pattern during Tracy’s ‘tell-me-an-interesting-story’ competition during The Needlework Show, I finally won! It was ridiculously difficult to chose just one. It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that I finally chose Dutch Beast because it appealed so much to my sense of  humor and because as a foreigner living in The Netherlands it just seemed so perfectly tongue-in-cheek. ;)

dutch beast

The other designer I tried so hard to win from was Monique … but there’s always next year! ;)

It’s a gorgeously sunny day and the kids and I are soon off to walk to the petting zoo and then over to the library. I plan to get some more stitching done tonight – thanks for your kind words about Thine Forever. It’s a gorgeous design and I really hope it’ll make the bridal pair happy.

a thing of beauty is a joy forever

…or so I hope….

I am in love with my current project, which isn’t too surprising considering it’s by my favorite designer, stitched on a to-die-for linen, and uses all NPI scrumptious silks. Oh, and I actually bought the design with Niek and I in mind. But when I saw Dirk’s house (Niek’s youngest brother, who is getting married next month), I immediately envisioned this design hanging on the wall – I even knew which wall I’d hang it on, if it were my house. Is this an indicator of cross stitch on the brain, when you go into a new environment and immediately begin decorating it with cross stitch designs? LOL! When I showed the design to Niek as a wedding gift suggestion, he agreed it would look great. Without further ado, here is Thine Forever by Carriage House Samplings. I’m actually following the suggested fibers and colors on this one – or will be until I run out of the burnt umber. Two skeins are needed if you’re stitching 2-over-2, it turns out. :(


Before I got started with stitching this morning, I thought I’d get my ‘puter chores done first (reading and replying to mail, commenting on blogs, etc.) and I accidently began straying about in cyberspace. Look at one of the incredibly gorgeous projects I found! Follow this link and take a look for yourself.

French Scissor Pocket project by mamilou

I also found some small, simple, pretty freebies here by a designer called Little Clover Garden. Scroll down and click the links for a PDF file.

And if, like me, you’re involved in a seasonal exchange and have an autumn theme looming on your horizon, I have to share the link to some adorable (!) toadstools that I’m envisioning as very cool pincushions. Have fun!

And that’s it from me for today. I hope your weekend has been full of all the good stuff that makes you smile. I probably should’ve done more chores myself, but I’m too content from all the sunshine and stitching to really punish myself too harshly. ;) I’ll leave you with a cute picture of my beastliest wee beasties, engaged in a (rare!) quiet pasttime.

two busy bees

sunshiney faces

You’ll have to excuse me for disappearing into the sunshine the past day or so. It’s been gorgeous! On Friday, I quickly finished up Reader, I Married Him:

(Chart found here.)

 And then I spent the rest of the day outside with the kids till dinnertime. What fun! We walked, went to the petting zoo, drew with sidewalk chalk, and much more (and yes, I said “we” -LOL!). I also made a lot of headway with Dragonfly in Amber (which I finished Friday evening). Now to impatiently await the shipment of the next couple of volumes. ;) I’m reading The Seventh Beggar by Pearl Abraham in the meanwhile.

Today was even more beautiful than yesterday in regard to weather, so after a hearty breakfast and a hasty turn at the chores, we all hopped into the car (including Rigby, the dog) and drove to the Reeuwijkse Hout for a long, lovely walk. I couldn’t take my camera as the batteries need recharging (again!) but here is one I took during a walk in the same area last summer. It’s one of our favorite walking areas, and certainly the one we visit the most regularly.

reeuwijk landscape with clouds

I have also started a new project that will be a gift for Niek’s youngest brother’s wedding next month. I didn’t take a picture of it, but I did get a shot of my constant companion who appears to have been helping me keep count of stitches. ;)

Arden watches me stitch

If time permits, I may stitch a second project for our wedding anniversary. I left Reader laying out yesterday evening while I was busy with the kids and Niek saw it (I caught him standing over it, smiling) …  kind of hard to pretend it’s for anyone else…. And luckily, Nic’s BOAF Love chart arrived – do you think I’ll have time?? Nic, thank you ever so much for your generosity in sharing this absolutely delightful design with me!!!  

Wishing you a wonderful weekend! Now, to catch up on blog reading and commenting! ;)

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