Category Archives: charity

day seven – short and sweet

Rowen came home from school today with a new library book titled 1001 Ways to Celebrate America by Gregory Godek and before she even got her boots off, she was informing me that she wanted to help people. Right now. A recent post over at Spinster Stitcher about Project Night Night had caught my eye and I discussed doing something like that with Rowen and she enthusiastically agreed. She went off and selected four of her best stuffed animals, four books that coordinated well with them, and then we purchased new fleece blankets at a local store. She packed Christmas bags with blanket-book-stuffed animal trios, and added a candy cane for holiday cheer and delivered them to The Next Step Domestic Violence Shelter. The woman who let us in really couldn’t get over the fact that this was all done at Rowen’s insistence – my only contributions were the blankets and acting as a chauffeur. I stood back and let Rowen fill in the paperwork (with help from the lady who worked there) and answer questions. I’m so utterly thrilled with Rowen’s sudden realization of what it means to help others. She told me after we dropped everything off, “Mom, now that I know how this feels, I won’t be mad at you anymore when you have to go away for your charity work.” :D

rowen donates

It’s my beautiful, feel-good, non-commercial moment of the day, that’s for sure!

oh my stars!

I had a personal goal of stitching four charity pieces this year (not much, I know, but better than nothing) and am now halfway there. I really like this square and I think it conformed well to the recipient’s request for a country style theme with stars, the moon and the sun. I’m planning to use the Aida scraps to make some bookmarks for upcoming literacy drives. :)

Shine charity square

The elements are from various older Bent Creek designs that I obviously must like because several years ago I made this using design elements from the same samplers! (It’s always been hard to get a decent photo of this because it’s got a lot of pink-on-pink shading that drives the camera to a nervous breakdown.)

Life is Good

It’s felt quiet since Jim and Gaby left. Of course it’s never actually quiet around here, but we miss them and the house seems a bit empty. We had fun making a packet full of letters to send them yesterday. :) Yesterday we finally got started on our summer schooling program and began the morning with writing letters and making lists of how we can help others (charity) and how we can help ourselves (homesteading). They’re themes we’ll return to throughout the summer.

We’ve also taken a trip to the beach with friends. I mean, if you live in Maine you’re legally required to go to the beach a certain number of times each summer. ;)

roque bluffs

But most exciting, we’ve started our first reports. The kids chose something from local history, based on a stack of books I brought home from the library. I’d just like to add that these are books from the adult history section and the kids read through them to choose their topics on their own. (Proud parent moment!) Rowen has chosen the old stagecoach route that used to run through East Machias, and in addition to reading the text pages, we’re going to drive down the old road, part of which still exists. (And it just so happens that I have a friend who lives at the end of the road – I may finally be able to join her in a cup of coffee!) Nick chose the university just up the hill from us, so we dropped by yesterday afternoon and met with the President’s assistant who, after getting over the shock of an 8-year old coming to him for information on the university’s history, was wonderfully friendly and helpful. Nick came home with a new book to read, and got right to it.

nick doing research

It’s raining cats and dogs so although this was sort of the day I’d planned to return Annie to the barn, we’ll keep her in until the weather is dry. She’s bored silly in the house by now, and the repeated cleaning of the downstairs entryway has long since lost its charm for the rest of us. LOL. She’s a constant whirlwind of activity – this picture, though blurry, was the best of about 30 attempts.

annie is ready to go outside

The chickens are soggy, especially the older chicks who are still too young to join the adults but too big to really enjoy the spartan conditions of their small (25×15 foot) run. The geese love this weather, though. Here are four my escape artist chicks the other morning (when the weather was dry) enjoying an outing in the adult chicken enclosure.

the four musketeers

I’ll be heading out of town at the crack of dawn tomorrow to pick up Sassparilla, a 5-year old Nigerian Dwarf dairy doe. She’s from the same farm as Eve – a heck of a long drive, but she has such an extraordinary record of kidding and milking that she’s worth the effort. I’m only half-joking when I say that once I have her, at least one of us will know what we’re doing when breeding, kidding, and milking seasons commence. ;) Here’s a picture of her borrowed from her current owner:

And before I disappear into the happy whirlwind of chores and activities, I have to share these gorgeous dish cloths with you that I received from Staci yesterday. Can you believe how gorgeous they are? Staci, these are going to make doing dishes such a delight! We don’t have a dishwasher, so anything that makes doing dishes more fun is seriously welcome. (And I am very, very, very lucky in that Niek does the dishes most of the time!) Staci, thank you so much!!

handmade dish cloths from Staci

good things

I was going to name this post “Who’s That Girl” because it’s been so long since I last posted that I thought you might’ve forgotten about me. And because we have some girls in this household who’ve undergone transformations that might make them unrecognizable. ;)

Lola, for example, has been to the beautician. Isn’t she lovely? :)

Lola with her new hairdo

But really, the good things outweigh the ‘who’s that girl’ sort of thing, or they overlap. Like Rowen – who became a beautiful fairy princess for her dance recital. Isn’t she something? :D

rowen's ballet recital

There has also been good food in our world. Since the fence has finally been finished, I’ve been baking up a storm – lots and lots of delicious fresh bread. This is a close-up of The Spectacles of St. Lucia. It was delicious!


Some do-gooding has been done – I finally got my little charity square out in the mail (several days late, to my shame). This is a slight adaptation of Love Letters by Papillon Creations.

Papilion Creations

Other stitching endeavors include good friends. Carol really made Rowen’s recent school project something special, so we both said thank you. Rowen wrote a nice letter and I finished off a small design by Niky’s Creations and filled it with some heavenly-smelling dried flowers.

niky's creations

One of the best good things around Chateau Chaos remains … Arden. :D


Hoping your little corner of the world is also full of good things. :D

mother’s little helper

Every time I try to do anything in the house – housework, decorating, etcetera – I wind up with one or more helpers. This probably goes a long way to explaining why my barn is somewhat more orderly than my house – chickens are totally uninterested in aiding my efforts, and I’m actually able to get something done. ;) Today’s number one helper, when I tried to straighten up a few things in the library, was Flip. After joyously running through and over the stuff I had laying out and knocking over as much as possible, he looked up and seemed to ask, “There! Did I miss anything?”

Flip in my stitching (10)

Twist, feeling more ladylike today, restrained herself to simply trying the new layout on for size. Here she is, curled into a display box (or an old drawer, if you’d rather have it that way) that is far, far too small. Not that she’s admitting anything of the sort! Oh no, she can easily fit into drawers that held her months ago – about like I can still sport a size 8 jean. ;)

Twist in a box

But despite all assistance, some things were eventually put away and the place looks a little more tidy. A few of my treasured stitching pieces can once again be seen here & there throughout the house.

home deco

Speaking of stitching, I scored a couple of happy hits recently in stash acquisition. First up, a sweet little Shepherd’s Bush design from a 1988 issue of Just Cross Stitch:

cool stash additions

And really putting a smile on my face is this Prairie Schooler leaflet, scored in a small lot of patterns from ebay for an absurdly reasonable price:

cool stash additions

I have done a little bit on the quilt square I mentioned a couple of posts ago. Not much, but … well, it is stitching. This is Love Letters, by Papillon Creations. I’m going to put the recipient’s initials and my initials instead of A B C D in the corners, and I’ve used warmer shades than the DMC called for in the design (but still the same color scheme). This is a terrible photo, sorry!

breast cancer quilt square

Thank you for Dad’s birthday wishes – not to mention the many compliments on his good looks! We had a great time with he and Mary on Saturday. :D

underdog was here!

Anyone remember the old Underdog cartoons? “Never fear, Underdog is here!” Well, there was no need to worry about my (insane) pile of laundry. While I was busy putting kids to bed and whatnot last night, my better half (aka Niek, aka Underdog) folded the whole huge heap of it. Three cheers for Niek! Hip, hip, hooray!

Today I stitched as fast as I could (which really isn’t saying much) so I could get the second charity square out in today’s mail. The deadline isn’t until next week, but I always feel like I’m late if I’m not actually early. (A trait which drives everyone around me crazy, btw.) Here are the squares I made for twins who battle SMA. For more information, or to make squares for someone else’s quilts, please check out Cole’s Quilts.

KyleAndLauren charity squares 003
Viceroy from Jennifer Colby’s book “Birds and Animals in Cross Stitch”, with subbed-out yellows because of the local dearth of DMC.

KyleAndLauren charity squares 001Dog from Prarie Schooler “Christmas Past” leaflet using called-for colors.

Now to wrap up my Easter exchange, which will not be early but will not be late either (at least not late according the real calender as opposed to my own private one, which is set about five days fast, LOL). I hope your weekend will be full of sunshine, health, and laughter. Thanks for visiting with me!

sick of sourdough?

I can understand if you’re sighing, “I come here to look at a stitching/crafting/kid blog – not cooking!” But before I move on to our regular programming, I just have to share the delicious pancakes we enjoyed for breakfast this morning. Nick made his into a heart, so he’d have love in his tummy all day. Yes, he can charm the birds out of the trees – but he can also tease and torment them back up there again! Rowen made hers into a sweet butterfly. The recipe for these sourdough buckwheat pancakes can be found here. I followed it to the T, with the exception of doubling it.

sourdough buckwheat pancakes

Okay, you twisted my arm. Here’s a snap of the sourdough pizza crust I made following this recipe. They’re pre-baked for about 10 minutes to avoid sogginess (and so I could freeze the extra crusts). (They were delicious, btw.) I’ve also started my first ‘fancy’ loaf, which needs nearly a full day to rise and do its stuff before you can bake it and eat it. I modified a recipe found here. (I had to modify it because my metric measuring cup is in with the rest of our belongings, sitting in an East Coast warehouse someplace….) So far, it’s a pail of goop, which the online lit refers to as a very high hydration level. I just hope it really does turn into something eventually. LOL.

sourdough pizza crust

Stitching? There has been precious little of it this week. I’ve been busy with Arden’s bed (which is not ready, but I have a couple of charity squares that are coming due and I don’t want to miss the deadline) and my cooking adventures this week. We’ve also taken my Mom out for lunch and I’ve attempted to give blood – only to find out that my 20 year career as a blood donor has come to an abrupt ending.  As I’ve lived in Europe for more than 5 years, I’m banned from donating blood in the US because of possible exposure to mad cow disease. The fact that I’ve never eaten British beef doesn’t matter. Honestly, I’m crushed. Blood and plasma is always in such short supply, and I’ve always taken my donation responsibilities very seriously. :(

But back to stitching, I have begun a butterfly for an adorable little girl and will do a transportation design for her brother once my stash arrives on 5 March. I’ll have to be quick, as the deadline is the 15th. Thanks to everyone who’s offered to send me DMC. I think the substitutions are working okay for the butterfly and unless something else comes up to delay the delivery, my stash will arrive (just) in time for me to do the second square for her brother.

Viceroy butterfly WIP

My aunts and one of my cousins are coming tomorrow, and I’m just so excited! Though we only live 1 1/2 hours from them, we haven’t seen them since shortly after the New Year. I hope your weekend is also brightened by something special. Thanks for visiting me here!

since i saw you last

Whew. Now that was a week! Thank you all so much for sticking with me! So, since we last sat down and spent any time together, the cast & crew of Chateau Chaos has:

No extra words are really necessary, are they?
playing in Luuring backyard

experienced both thunder and sunshine

We’ve had some extreme weather during this extreme week, with everything from high winds and T&L storms to streaming sunshine. Guess which I prefer… LOL!

stitching and family in July 039

stitching and family in July 058

spent quality time with the family

Last weekend we visited with Niek’s parents, who’d recently returned from a vacation in Scotland. The kids had an absolute blast with their Opa and Oma.

stitching and family in July 024

stitching and family in July 020

eaten well

fresh berries and cream 002

All the kids are very keen on the fresh produce available this time of year, but this picture of Rowen hamstering baby tomatoes in her cheeks was just too cute to keep to myself!

stitching and family in July 003

visited the dentist

At our recent checkup, we discovered that Max  is overly sensitive to the fluoride treatment (thus the blisters on his gums) and will need braces, just like his Mom did those many years ago.

stitching and family in July 045

engaged in the slightly naughty

When Lola saw me taking this picture, she got right off the couch – she knows it’s not allowed. But hey, rules are made to be broken now & again, aren’t they?

stitching and family in July 056

learned to sit in chairs

Arden seems to have finally mastered the art of sitting in a chair without tipping the whole thing over. :D

stitching and family in July 009

and stitched

I finished this round of the Quaker RR and sent it on, and promptly started on the next round. Doesn’t everyone have lovely taste in colors?


QuakerRR rd 2

quaker rr rd 3

I also finished a charity quilt square in record time. Not my finest effort, but certainly my fastest, this is going to a lady with advanced breast cancer who enjoys horse riding. The motifs are taken from an old JCS issue.

breast cancer quilt square

In parting, I wish you more sunshine than rain, unhurried stitches, lots of playtime, and an absence of cavities. Take a little time to be naughty – and to enjoy it!

aaah, productivity …

What a nice weekend! I hope yours was, too! I did indeed finish the stitching on the third gift and, if all goes well, the finish-finishing will be done by the time my head hits the pillow tonight. I’ve managed to pull all the coordinating fabrics, etc. so it’s “just” a matter of assembly. LOL. If only you could see me when I’m putting things together … you’d laugh yourself silly. ;)

While I was stitching, Ash was busy putting a lot of irresistible goodies up on eBay. One of the most talented all-around crafters I’ve ever met – I mean, everything Ash did was drop-dead gorgeous – she’s out of crafts and is clearing out all her remaining stash. You really have to go look. And drool! (And bid, LOL!)

We enjoyed a very laid-back Father’s Day here at Chateau Chaos. No pictures, I’m sorry, though I was tempted to post one of Niek in his special red & white striped apron. He insisted on cooking dinner even though he should’ve had the day off.

While the kids were out playing, I picked up Blessed Be by Stacy Nash. It’s been a long time since this one has seen the light of day. The linen, 40 ct Dark Chino R&R, is very challenging to stitch on and that’s probably why it got shoved to the back of the drawer. But it really is the perfect linen for this project, so I’ll soldier on. Believe it or not, I did the face three times before I was remotely satisfied with it (and even now, I’m not sure …). I’m doing this using my own choice of flosses.

Blessed Be by Stacy Nash WIP

I also picked up Eleanor Spooner’s Spot Sampler, one of my own designs, and put in a few more stitches on this one. I love this project, but because I started it just for myself, it was continually pushed back to make time for other stitching obligations. Since I’ve recently made contact with Eleanor’s youngest daughter, however, I’ve decided to stitch and frame it for her. And now my procrastination is due to worries that my work won’t be good enough. Sigh … I’m my own worst enemy! (Please overlook the creases & wrinkles – because I’m doing this in non-colorfast silks, I’m waiting till the very end to iron it.)

ES Spot Sampler WIP

For the next couple of days, I’ll be stitching a quilt square for the breast cancer group. The lady receiving this quilt is an avid horse rider, so I’ve combed through all my old magazines and found some horse-related designs that I’m combining to create her square. I just started it this morning and the first part of the design is from Cross Stitch & Needlework June 1997.

horse riding quilt square WIP

Wishing one and all a most lovely week, full of sunshine and good health!

yippee skippee

Su’s exchange has reached her and she’s happy with it – hooray! I love having this year-long exchange with Su, but I’m always very insecure about my choices and finishes for her because she is so insanely talented and because I don’t have that ‘feminine flair’ that so elegantly marks her stitching. But my Prim Fem Sampler Bird, finished with vintage lace and floral backing, was a hit. And knowing that Su (like me) is a huge Brightneedle fan, Mama Bird was also well-received. (I didn’t follow the color scheme for this design, and I omitted the bottom-most part of the design.)

Primitive Sampler bird for Su

Brightneedle for Su

I also finished the Swirly Girls (freebie by Sharon Crescent, 2007) for a breast cancer quilt square. The lady who’ll receive this is wild about flowers, and I thought the blue and yellow color scheme was both restful and cheering. She is currently recovering from a grueling operation, and I can imagine both rest and cheer are important.

swirly girls

This has been a nice family weekend. We celebrated my father-in-law’s birthday with Niek’s siblings, nieces & nephews, aunts and uncles. I especially enjoyed watching Nick and Rowen playing with their cousins – but of course, I’d neglected to bring my camera and therefore have no pictures to share. Lola’s mom and dad were also there, which was kind of fun. Lola is bigger than her mama, and I do hope she’s reached her adult size now.  One big dog is enough – LOL!

Another busy week is looming and I wish you all a most wonderful one. :D
Thank you for visiting!

she who has health, has everything

I have to admit that I’m beginning to feel a little freaked out by the trials and tribulations that friends and family are suffering. It was bad enough when it was “just”  finances, but lately it seems like almost everyone I care about has been suffering from worrisome illnesses.  I don’t want to get up on a soapbox and make a speech, but I needed to say something. You wonderful people take care of yourselves; and if you want or need to talk, don’t hold it in – getting it out will be better for your health in the long run. Big,warm hugs to you.

Let’s see, stitching …. I have been stitching and finishing. Su’s seasonal exchange came out pretty good – though I always worry because I cannot create those wonderfully feminine delights that she is so great at – and hopefully the mail will rush it to her. As soon as that was finished, I got busy with a charity square – it’s for a rush quilt, so time is of the essence.  The design is an old freebie from Sharon Crescent called “Swirly Girls”  and I’m doing it in my own choice of DMC on white evenweave. Anyone who has this design but hasn’t stitched it yet: Beware, the chart contains errors. (It is stitched straight, but it looks crooked because of the angle at which I took the photo.)

Swirly Girls WIP for breastcancerquilt

I’ve also been reading. I really, really enjoyed Hearts in Atlantis. And now I’m enjoying The Bright Forever. I also have a couple of library books that called my name when I popped in yesterday with Rowen & Arden. Rowen, btw, is back at school today for half a day. Though she’s still very tired and pale, she really wanted to see her friends and get out of the house for a few hours.

Speaking of getting out of the house, Niek and I are going out to dinner tonight without the children. Gasp! It’s only been about two years since the last time. I hope I remember how to behave in a restaurant. LOL. Because Rowen’s not 100% and because it’s a new babysitter, we’re only going downtown to a new-to-us Cuban restaurant.

For some new and interesting goings-on: There is a giveaway going on at Kerin’s blog for some great ATC cards associated with the Australian fires. Pop over and take a look. :)  Nicole is celebrating her 1000th post with a stunning giveaway! Sue has started up a blog specifically for the delights of Blackbird Designs. She’s taking sign-ups if you’re interested! And Betty has yet another gorgeous freebie available at her blog!

Well, I guess I’ve rattled on long enough. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. Your friendship means so much to me. Stay healthy!!

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