Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dec 21/11

 These little stockings were also found in the January 2012 Cross Stitch and Needlework. I added little poinsettia buttons that I found at Fabricville the other day, displayed nicely by the fabric cutting table for the impulse shopper. The buttons are not easy to see in this photo but they are helping to secure the hanging ribbons.

My fascination with Lizzie Kate continues. My corners are not the cleanest and I was reminded once again that I can not see the holes on black fabric as I tried to do the finishing on this ornament which resulted in the not so square corners.

I doubt that I will get any more finishes in between now and Christmas. My NY resolution will be to get back into the swing of stitching and blogging again. This past year or so has been a challenging year for me on so many levels, but there are signs that things are turning around. Now to concentrate on delivering gifts and holiday wishes!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dec 19/11

The great ornament giveaway of 2011 has begun at work. Here they are on my dining room table without a cat looking them over. Cooper, my youngest darling cat, has claimed the table as hers recently so she has been seen jumping up on the table and sailing across because she landed on some felt or an ornament that acted as a skate.

Someday I will figure out how to better manipulate photos on here. You get the general idea though.

For the bird ornaments, I found a starched felt at Joann's in Bangor that I just love for the backing because there is no fuss or muss. Just cut to size, glue, hold in place with clothespins and trim. My kind of easy finish!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dec 12/11

And here we have the finished version of some of my ornaments. My eye was immediately drawn to the backing fabric when I was wandering through Fabricville the other day looking for backing fabric for my ornaments. They were having an pre-inventory sale so I got the fabric for 30% off of $14.99/m. Two of the ornaments pictured here have been given to two of my co-workers at the the two work Christmas parties I went to this weekend. There is a big pile of stitching, backing fabric, stuffing, ribbons and cardboard all piled around my couch as my fingers fly through the last minute assembly mania that I go through every year. Some year I will learn. 2011 was not it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nov 29/11

 The Christmas wreath hit the front door on Sunday after it was purchased at a local craft sale that afternoon. The mixed green wreaths are so much more beautiful than the ones decorated with ribbons, bows and ornaments in my opinion. Then again, I am not really a Christmas decorating kind of  person and with this wreath, my decorating is about 50% done. Only the removing the Charlie Brown tree from its box remains and that is not done until a gift actually arrives because the feline contingent get all bent out of shape when I co-opt their end table that conveniently sits in front of the window that they like to sit in on sunny days.

On a stitching note, I have stitched up these two stockings from the Crosstitch and Needlework Jan 2012 edition as well. I used up some more of the threads that were left over from the bird ornaments I stitched both this year and last year and the fabric is a white 14 count Aida.

I am not sure in what way these will be finished and gifted in the upcoming flurry of gift giving during the month of December.

At the same time as I am getting ready for Christmas, I am also getting ready for a trip to Burkina Faso in January. Where is that you ask? Well, it is here in green:
The country was known as Upper Volta when I first studied geography in school. Why am I going? My cousin moved there two years ago for several convoluted reasons so I want to see where she is living and why. Plus, I will get to add a stamp from an African country to my passport! A handful of my French-speaking customers are helping me get ready for the trip by speaking to me in French when they are in the store, one of them being from the Congo so I am learning a bit about the French African accent which sounds rather different than the French Canadian accent I hear here.

So yeah, things are busy here but good for the most part. Well, beyond the usual family and work BS, but heck, life is not perfect!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nov 23/11

Oh my heavens, there has actually been some stitching going on in this house! The January 2012 edition of Cross Stitch and Needlework had this adorable pattern so I just had to stitch it up immediately. I am a little behind in my Christmas stitch and mail schedule so a quick and easy pattern like this was perfect for my time line of already having missed the international mail deadlines. The first variation was done with threads from my mystery box and the colours are fairly true to those used in the model version in the magazine. The pattern is stitched on 28 count fabric (I forget the brand) that has a sparkly thread woven into it.

 For this version, I decided to use some of my Light Effects threads to add a little more sparkle. I think that if I use them again, I will combine them with regular floss because this version looks a little flat to me.
 This last piece was stitched up for a friend of mine who lives in the US. I love lighthouses and I wanted something to represent the region where I live so finding this pattern when I was cleaning up my craft room was a perfect find. The card was purchased from Michaels. The pattern was stitched on a piece of scrap 14 count Aida and the threads are, you guessed it, from the mystery box!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oct 30/11

I finished this Dimensions kit the other day and framed it up very quickly to give to a friend of mine yesterday in celebration of her 40th birthday. The party was a complete surprise planned by her mother and it was a thrill to be part of it. Afterwards, my friend and I went out to dinner for the mother of all gab fests.
Yay for good friends!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sept 19/11

 For the first time since I bought the property, I have managed to get out to my country property to actually see most of the apples on the trees. I even managed to pick a small bagful of them to bring home with the intention of making an apple crisp. The trees have not been tended to for many (30? 40?) years so most of the apples are up too high for me to safely pick and many apples are scabby and/or wormy. The deer do not seem as fussy as this human because there is much evidence on the ground of their gnawing at the apples.

So, this colander of apples has been partially turned into
 this apple crisp whose recipe can be found here at Betty Crocker.
I took this pan to my mom's house for Sunday Dinner and it was pretty much licked clean when I left. I was a little worried about how the apples would turn out because I have never eaten or cooked with them before, but my family assured me as they wolfed down their share that it was delicious.

My stitching has been slowed a bit because I have strained part of my hand at the base of my middle finger on my right hand. To help with the discomfort, I tape my two middle fingers together if I am going to stitch for a few hours or if I have been at work for a few days (opening vials aggravates the hand as well).

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The 10th anniversary of Sept 11

With the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks, I find myself thinking back to that time. I was in Sweden visiting with friends while on a 2 week vacation. I had arrived on Sept 7th, a Friday, and was a little jetlagged as well as having some side effects from a recent yellow fever vaccine. Nevertheless, I set out for the pub with my friend Therese's cousin (I was staying with T. but she had a work function so poor Hakan was asked to take me out) and got a little drunk. Well, alot maybe because I forgot how to speak English, but that is not the point of this little story.

During the course of the evening, I was introduced to several of Hakan's friends at the pub. He is in the Swedish navy so I met several guys from both the military navy and the merchant navy who were based in Karlskrona. One guy in particular was not so intimidated by having to speak English with me so we ended up hanging out together. At one point, Jana looked at me and said, "You are so beautiful". That brought me up short. I did not know how to respond beyond a stunned, "Um, thank you?".

At that time in my life, I was in the grips of a depressive episode that had been finally recognized and diagnosed five years before but had been going on for years before that. Looking back now, there is no doubt in my mind that it had been going on for at least 15 years at that point. I spent many years just taking one day at a time because there were so many things going on around me that I had no control over and I was so overwhelmed that it was all I could do to see life through to the next midterm, the next class, the next court date of my parents' divorce. To compensate, I wore a brave face and carried an armour of bravado that hid (or at least I thought it did) alot of stuff. My cousin once told me that she was amazed at my ability to just ignore an issue if there was nothing I could do about it. In university, I was one of those girls who could walk through a bar and take it for granted that several heads would turn, that drinks would be bought for me and that I was not sitting to one side hoping that a guy would ask me to dance.

After university, I dove into my career as a pharmacist and volunteer activities. I was busy, busy, busy. What people did not know was that if I was not at work or wherever, I was curled up in bed with the blankets over my head. It was not until I happened to be reading a professional development article on depression and I checked "yes" on every line of a screening tool that I realized something was REALLY wrong. I was numb to feeling, I was numb to life and everything was grey to me.

So, there I was in Sweden, unsure how to react when a guy said to me that I was beautiful. I was sad that I was so numb and sad that I had lost my joie de vivre/bravado. A few days later, I sat in stunned silence like the rest of the world as the images of planes crashing into the World Trade Centre looped constantly on CNN. I participated in moments of silence in Sweden in between spending hours watching the coverage while Therese was at work. Flights to North America were not flying so my return home on Sept 21th was up in the air. Therese's family made it clear that I was welcome to stay with them as long as necessary. I loved them for their generousity but I really wanted to get home as soon as possible. Yes, I am sure that I could have found work there as a pharmacist, learned the language and settled in quite nicely as I love Sweden, but I wanted to be home with my family.

In the meantime, Jana and I hung out a few more times, including my last night in Sweden. He asked me to stay and/or return to Sweden because he had never met another woman like me and wanted to marry me. By then I had realized that I still had a lot of healing to do and told him that he needed to forget about me because I was so miserable with myself that I would make him miserable. In retrospect, I still believe that, but I am thankful to him for that emotional kick in the pants. It still took several years to fully free myself from that depressive cycle, but he made me see how numb I had become.

Sept 11 was a wake up call that no country is immune to terrorism and violence and is the "Where were you when?" of this era as well as my own personal wake up call. There have been a couple of other depressive episodes in between and I am just coming out of another one now. So many of you have very kindly complimented me on my new thumbnail. That photo is a true reflection of how I feel these days. I am standing strong, face to the sun, hopeful and full of life. The loss and violence of the events that day are not far from my mind as we near that anniversary and so are the thoughts of a Swedish man who unknowingly changed my life in a moment.

This entry was originally posted in a social networking blog that I also belong to. Here is the photo I am referring to as my thumbnail:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Aug 14/11

And again, long time no posting. I have been stitching but not as much as usual. Being away so much has had a lot to do with that. There was the trip to the Dominican Republic in January, a trip to Guatemala in May and a two week stint as a chaperone for a Rotary Exchange student program in June/July. Then there was an unexpected trip this past week to southeastern British Columbia to attend the funeral for my Uncle Dave.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some photos to sum up the past six months or so. I can't seem to get them to load in order and given my current technical difficulties all around (over 2 weeks without internet access at home, I am giving up trying!). Guatemala, Canada, and me!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feb 12/11

     Oh my! It has been a while since I last made a post. My life has been a whirlwind what with the return of one brother from Afghanistan on Dec 4 and the engagement of the other brother that same night, holiday mania and getting ready for my most recent trip to the Dominican Republic. Nope, not your typical resort vacation although we were housed at Casa de Campo near the city of La Romana.
    My Rotary district had partnered with the Rotary Club of La Romana Incorporado in a clean water project so 13 of us traveled there to help install water filters in the bateys. A batey is a village out in the sugar cane fields where the Haitian sugar cane cutters are housed by Central Romana, the sugar company. The filters consist of a large blue pail, two layers of gravel, a layer of sand and a layer of biologicals at the top that kill of pathogenic bacteria.

Here I am post-installation of a filter in one of the homes with the mother of the house, her son and Wascar, one of the young men who work with the project in La Romana. Most times, the water being used for drinking and bathing at the bateys is piped from a nearby river with no treatment whatsoever. Diarrhea and skin infections are not uncommon as a result and it has been found that these filters significantly reduce the incidence of these maladies.
    When not installing filters, my time was taken up with the children of the bateys. I uploaded 837 pictures upon my return and probably 600 of the pictures are of the children like these three little amigas who held my hand while we walked around when they were not making funny faces at my camera!

The weather was amazing in the DR, especially compared to the snowstorms that were battering the East Coast while I was away. Having a tan made shoveling my driveway a little more bearable when I came home, but only just a little!