Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dec 23/12

Okay, the gifts are wrapped and some of them will be delivered this afternoon. All of my Christmas stitching is done, mailed, given out at work or in some of the gift bags at my feet. My poor little ort jar overflowed with all of the stitching and finishing so I emptied it but not before taking a photo. I don't know why I want to keep a record of my ort jars but I do so here is its most recent photo!
Stuffed tighter than a drum! Of course, I have immediately started to fill it again as I switch back to non-Christmas projects and look forward to new projects in 2013.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dec 19/12

The last of the 2012 ornaments! I am not sure what I did with the pattern but they are stitched on Irish Linen 28 count and done with the ever present mystery threads.

The snow is falling quickly today, making things feel more wintry and Christmas-like here. My outside tree ornaments are looking extra festive today. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Dec 2/12

I was just about to start wrapping and addressing the ornaments made for my friends who live away when I realized that photos had not been taken of my recent handiwork. Eighteen ornaments have ended up finished and hanging on my privacy screen.

There are a few that have been in my stitched-but-not finished bag for a couple of years now. Others had the final stitches put into them a few weeks ago. I am surprised at how many I did have to finish when all was said and done because my usual summer start was greatly delayed by needing to stitch the wedding gift done for my brother's wedding.
Some have been stitched before but I enjoyed stitching them so much the first time that I did the patterns again. My kitchen table then turned into a finishing table as glue, batting, clothespins, scissors, felt and ribbon scattered across the table to come together as finished ornaments. Fortunately the cats who live with me now have no interest in craft supplies so I was able to leave every thing out on the table. There was one cat in the past who would have destroyed every thing she could get her paws on. She is the reason I own so many plastic tubs and containers to contain my craft supplies.

Now to finish wrapping the parcels for the mail and sorting out which co-worker gets which ornament. Then, I will consider making some order out of the craft supply chaos which I am also considering making worse as I have a handy coupon from Michaels for double Air Mile points.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sept 30/12

The wedding present for my brother and his wife has finally been picked up from the framing shop and given to them! They were married August 11/12 so I figure that I have done well to get it to them in the same year as it was unusually too hot to stitch this summer which threw off my expected finish date of mid-July. I was overwhelmed when the shop clerk unwrapped the piece for my approval before I paid. Having only a small sample piece of the frame and matte makes it hard to really see what the piece will look like when it is framed but the long and agonizing session of choosing the mattes and frame were well worth it.

The happy couple

 Close up view.
 Wreath of Roses
While that piece was away at the framer, I focused on stitching up some ornaments for the upcoming Christmas season.

 Peace on Earth
Debbie Booth of My Big Toe Designs
Just Cross Stitch July /Aug 2011
I have included the original picture so that you can see how I modified it because I made a fabric cutting boo-boo.

 Frosty Kiss
Patti Connor of SamSarah Design Studio
Just CrossStitch July/Aug 2011
I love the Frosty series of ornaments that have come out over the years and have stitched most them at least once. Instead of using the suggested threads for the random snowflakes, I used one of my DMC Pearlescent Effects E3747. They do not show well in the photos, but the stitches do catch the light.

 Santa in a Box
Susan Myers of Acorn House Designs
Just CrossStitch Nov/Dec 2010
Flipping through my pile of magazines looking for possible ornament designs, I came across these panels for the Santa in a Box. The snowman is outlined with a smyrna stitch and the tree is outlined with a rice stitch. The rice stitch was a new one to me!

In other news, there is a loaf of apple bread baking up in my breadmaker and I am about to fry up a mess of tomatoes and peppers from both my garden and the garden of my best friend to put on a pasta. The apples came from a wild growing apple tree down the road from me as I was too late to get the apples from my own trees. Now, what to do with all the carrots I harvested today?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sept 21/12

The other day I drove 1.5 hours to the closest cross stitch shop to me with the intention of buying some fabric for stitching Christmas ornaments. Really all I wanted was a metre of a certain type of Lugana, but unfortunately they do not have a website and I did not want to do the purchase by email so I drove there. I also had the intention of going up to the commercial area of the city and buying a pair of running shoes as mine are starting to protest.

Funny how I ran out of money at the cross stitch store. Lookee! Lots of fabric stash:

I could not get a good photo of this particular piece but the colours were so lovely that I could not resist and another woman in the shop came over to tell me that she just loved the piece I had in my to-purchase pile.

Now to save up for my new running shoes......

Friday, September 07, 2012

Sept 7/12

There has been some stitching of ornaments finally! These first four come from a book called "Cross Stitch Wit & Wisdom" by Joan Elliott. They are stitched on a light blue 28 count mystery fabric with threads from my leftover box.

 Next we have an ornament from Just Cross Stitch July/August 2011. This one is called "Two Year Supply of Calling Birds" by Tracy Horner of Ink Circles. You can not see the sparkles in this photo but I used a fabric with a hint of sparkle in it to stitch this along with DMC 304, 934 and a mystery yellow.
Last but not least I found this one in a design called Christmas Patchwork designed by Cathy Bussi and published in the December 2009 The Cross Stitcher. Stitched on white Aida (not sure of the count) and with mystery threads as usual! Some day that box will be empty. Most likely because someone cleaning out my house after my demise has dumped the contents in the garbage, but some day!

A friend of mine is visiting from Boston this weekend and she is quite allergic to cats so I should get back at the de-hairing of the shack. If that fails, I have lots of Aerius in the cabinet....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Aug 29/12

The stitching of Christmas ornaments has begun in earnest here. I did not get around to taking any photos of the three that are stitched now. That will have to wait until I put the last handful of stitches in the fourth one (I did a group of four from the same book) is completed tonight.

Yesterday, I made a little road trip with my best friend to a place called Briggs and Little, a fabulous yarn company in a tiny town called Harvey. We were intoxicated by the woollen yarns and the colours on display. The woman working in the shop was very knowledgeable and passionate about knitting so we had a fabulous chat with her. I was inspired by a hat pattern called "Whale Tale" to take up my knitting needles again. My nephew is going to look super cute with the little whale flukes bobbing on his head this winter!

The other project I am in the midst of is reading and implementing the program from a book called "Throw Out Fifty Things" by Gail Blanke. My house and head have been very cluttered in the past few years as a result of being heartbroken and stressed out so this book came at just the right time as I have recently recognized that I need to get back in the driver's seat of this thing called My Life. Basically, the author encourages the reader to go from room to room and to assess things like the bedroom closet and the bathroom drawers. She tells you to go through each item in those places and think about whether it is a positive or negative thing for you to keep. Whether it be clothes, old make up or old medications, she asks the reader to evaluate how we view ourselves and our intentions. One question she asked about old medications is do we hold onto old medications because we fear getting sick again? Better to intend to be well and not keep such reminders or safety nets around.

So far, I am up to item 25 of things either being recycled, donated or trashed. My items have included a flat iron that works but does not heat up hot enough to do much with my thick hair, a toggle from a jacket that I donated a few years ago, a plastic container of paint that has dried out, a container of rolled change that is going to the bank this afternoon to be deposited, a blazer I bought in 1995 and a bottle that once held maple syrup and was rinsed thoroughly with the thought of finding another purpose for it. The relief I feel already in letting go of these things that are just taking up space is good. After a couple of years of stumbling around in the emotional dark, I am feeling stronger day by day and hope to continue on this path of strength and joy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Aug 18/12

My house is driving me nuts these days. I am feeling overwhelmed with stuff these days as I try to decide what I am going to do next. I have been looking at house plans again for my dream home on my property in the country but I am not convinced that is the right move for me right now or I would be ploughing straight ahead. One of the main reasons is that I have done some emotional housecleaning recently and have been actively looking for a partner. Scary territory for me and the pickings seem rather slim. Anyhow, this is a crafting blog not a dating blog so change of topic.

To that end, I tackled my earring collection. It hit me the other day that I have some unused wooden frames, burlap, paint and glue. Voila! An earring organizer!
Control gained over a pile of stuff in a bathroom drawer. As bonus, I discovered some earrings that I forgot that I had and sadly can not find the full set of a pair I love. I also FINALLY threw out several pairs that were tarnished and gross. Emotional attachment to stuff is something that I struggle with. I will keep things for a rainy day or because someone bought it for me or just because. It is hard to be ruthless but I am getting better at repurposing, donating or outright trashing stuff that is no longer useful to me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31/12

Whew! Finished a few days late but at least the bride and groom will receive this not too long after their wedding. The plan had been to finish this in June and have it to the framer in good time. Life got in the way, including many hot nights where it was just too hot to even think about holding textiles in my hands. I am not happy with my gold thread work as I did not do the cording correctly, but I think that the overall look is fine despite my mistake.

To give me a bit of a break which I always do after a big piece, I have switched to doing some small Christmas ornaments for a little while. The joy of finishing a piece is so long awaited when doing a big project that I need to change gears to get some immediate feedback for a while before starting another large project.

Happy stitching everyone!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My laptop is being temperamental and it only struck me today that I could blog with my phone!

I made some of these hearts out of recycled red wool sweaters bought from our trusty Frenchy's, ribbons and a fabulous silk yarn that I purchased at Cricket Cove. The idea came from a similar heart that I saw in a shop in Annapolis Royal, NS a few weeks ago.

Other than that, not much crafting going on with gardening and summer season being here. That reminds me, I should pick my green beans today!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

June 6/12

April showers have definitely brought May flowers this year in my little corner of the world. I love watching my yard burst into colour as each flower makes it appearance in the yard. When my friend Tracy designed my flower beds and then I subsequently expanded on her designs, I kept the idea in mind that I wanted a view no matter where I was in the yard. 

This iris is tucked under a burning bush tree that grows beneath my bedroom window and behind a weeping cedar. I came across it when I was mowing the lawn the other day and saw a little bit of colour between the two large shrubs.
The purple irises are a holdover from when my best friend owned this house. I could be wrong, but I believe they came from her grandmother's gardens. This photo does not do justice to the richness of the purple in the petals.

 The honeysuckle has burst into bloom, so much so that many of the branches droop to the ground. That shrub came to my house in a 4x4 pot and now 8 years later, reaches over the eavestrough of my one story house. The bees and the hummingbirds love the pollen and nectar of the blooms. On a beautiful sunny afternoon, the shrub loudly hums with all of the bees feeding off the blooms.

To add a little humour to this entry. I spied this little paw sticking out from under the blankets the other day. Penelope loves to sleep in the little cave that forms where the blankets pool on the floor and usually I find her by accidentally nudging her as I walk by the bed. Not sure if she is flipping me the bird or just quietly pointing out where I should avoid walking!

I have recently been doing some emotional housekeeping and decluttering. There are some things that I have decided are no longer important and have closed the door on those things. There are other things that I have decided I should make important again like blogging and journal writing. Yes, that actual putting of ink onto paper kind of journal writing. Now, if I could only get motivated to exercise more as well!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26/12

The writing of this post was delayed a few minutes as I had to chase out a neighbour's cat in between uploading my photos and beginning to type. The obvious solution to these regular intrusions would be to close my patio door but then my three darlings would have me running daily marathons to let them in and out and in and out and for good measure, out and in.

The other day I took my first trip of the year out to a piece of property I own in the country. I like to take a look around at the changes the winter has brought on the trees and property. One of the changes this year was the death of one of my apple trees. From the amount of etching on the trunk as seen here, I suspect that the tree had been badly damaged for a long time. I spent an hour or so, walking around and taking down the dead branches, all the while assessing what I would like to get done in the next few months.

In the yard at my house, the plants are bursting into green and blooms with all of the rain and warm weather we have been having. The lilacs are just starting to open up, much to my delight!

Somewhere in between working and wrangling the mess that is my neglected yard, I have been stitching as much as possible as the August deadline looms up more quickly that I would like. The cross stitching is almost done. One more evening should finish the bottom right hand corner and then I can begin the backstitching and filling in all the little spots I somehow missed. I also need to do the stitching with the gold filament. I love the finished product of stitching with the filament but really dislike doing the stitching itself.

Friday, May 04, 2012

May 4/12

 So, I have been home for a handful of weeks now and am still processing the trip to the Dominican Republic. Half baked ideas are floating around in my head about what is going to come next. For the moment, it means attending the District Rotary Conference in June to fire up more Rotarians from this region to get involved. After having been literally in the trenches and seeing the differences the water filters we are funding are making, I am a great advocate for continuing our support. How much of a difference you ask? Well, we dispensed all of our metronidazole antibiotics in the first batey. The people were being treated for both GI infections and vaginal infections and I don't remember the breakdown, but the key was that batey did not have water filters. At the second batey, we were an hour into the clinic when I realized that we had dispensed no metronidazole so I asked if they had water filters. The answer was yes.

 One of these kids had been seen at the clinic that day. His head is liberally painted with Selsun Blue to treat the fungal infection on his head.
One of the best parts of these trips are the people I meet along the way. This is me with Fernando, my hermano Dominicano. We met last year when I was there with Rotary to see what the water program we were sponsoring was about. He goes out into the bateys to teach people about clean water and sanitation and monitors the water filters that have been placed in people's homes. A few moments before this photo was taken, he was holding up an exhausted me and letting me soak in his strength for a few minutes before we continued on with our work.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17/12

 An interview with the local newspaper led to this great article on my then upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic as part of a medical team. The team went to the sugar cane villages (bateys) and the La Romana prison to see patients. I was a little nervous and cleaned the house like mad before the photographer showed up.

 My friends were very generous in making donations to me. Two boxes of prescription medications were purchased and the remainder of the money was spent on all of these over the counter medications. US Customs almost seized the lot if the secondary screening agent had had his way. Fortunately for me, his supervisor was more kindly. The supervisor took one look at me and my boxes and said, "She is on a humanitarian mission; let her go". Whew!
And the end result was about 700 people were seen by the team during the week . Here one of our interpreters is explaining the medications in Creole to a family. Sometimes I felt like we were not doing much, but then I would see the smiles on the kids' faces as we handed out bandaids and the grateful thanks from their moms as they received vitamins and medications made me realize that we were making a difference.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mar 25/12

Wow! We have had such beautiful weather this past week that I have already started some of my spring outdoor work like picking up all the garbage that has blown into the yard and inspecting my compost bins. Yes, that is plural. I have three compost bins beside my shed. My yard is chock full of flower beds and I use compost as fertilizer because of the creek that runs through the corner of property. Anyhow, the 25C of last Tuesday has been replaced by snow flurries this afternoon. As much as I am not a fan of winter, I much prefer more seasonal weather than days that are nicer than days in July.

More progress has been made on my brother's wedding gift. I would estimate that I am 1/4 of the way through the cross stitching part and I am a little anxious about whether I will get it completed in time. There have been several evenings where I have been exhausted mentally and physically after work so no stitching was done those evenings. Some times I just have maybe a half hour so I set a goal of stitching up a full length of floss (the floss is pre-cut). Sunday evenings are a good evening to stitch, especially one like tonight where it is grey and damp.

I did almost give the game away today though. As part of my mom's birthday celebrations today, my brother and I put together a roast beef dinner. My first thought was to take the piece along with me to work on it in between putting on the roast in the slow cooker and getting the vegetables ready but then I realized that my brother and his girlfriend would see what I was working on! I took a book along with me although I ended up taking a nap to recover from last night's debauchery. The meal was lovely in the end though!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mar 13/12

The Canadian Women's and Men's curling championships have been on these past three weeks so I have been spending alot of time in front of the television. That in turn means lots of stitching! There is a faint hope that this will be completed in time for my brother's wedding in August, but the advent of warmer weather and a trip away to the Dominican Republic in a few weeks will take away from my potential stitching time.

Yes, I am off on another trip. This trip has me really excited. I will be returning to the Dominican Republic for the third time, this time on a health care mission. I will be working with a team of American and Dominican doctors to provide basic healthcare out in the sugar cane villages and in one of the prisons. My role will be, for those who don't know what I do for work, is to be the team pharmacist and to dispense the medications we are taking with us. The sugar cane cutters are Haitian so they have little or no access to the Dominican healthcare system. The doctor organizing the team has told me that these clinics are primarily a well-persons clinic as the sugar cane cutters have to be able bodied to be working in the fields and to be eligible to rent the shacks in the company villages. I have no idea what to expect in the prison, but it will be all part of the experience. One of these days I will take a real vacation like a trip to Italy or Ireland, but for now, I love what I am doing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Feb 24/12

 Just because I had one bib left in my stash and because I love this heart pattern, I stitched it one more time using DMC 816 and adding a bit to the border to fill in the bib. One less thing in the stash and one more gift at the ready when someone else announces that they are pregnant. Decluttering has been a renewed theme in my house again so reduction of every and any pile of stuff is helpful.

My youngest brother is getting married in August. Here is the patttern/kit I decided upon for the gift for him and his fiancee. So, the wedding is August 11th, today is Feb 24th and I am wondering what the chances are that I will have this puppy stitched, framed and ready to present at the family gift opening at the rehearsal party? Methinks my fingers are going to fall off between now and then. Good thing that I adore my brother and my soon-to-be sister-in-law!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feb 19/12

 My absolute favourite picture from my trip to Burkina Faso in January has to be this one of the elephants in the Nazinga game reserve. The morning after this photo was taken at their watering hole by the main camp, my little cousin and I were woken up to see an elephant grazing outside our window. There were many other photos and experiences, but yeah, this one is my favourite.

So in stitching news, I stitched up this bib for a Croatian friend of mine who lives in Dusseldorf, Germany. She is expecting her first baby to arrive any day now. The pattern came from a book that I have on traditional Scandinavian redwork and I used DMC 347.
After much thinking and flipping through patterns, I finally decided to stitch one of the Dimensions Wreath series for my brother and fiancee who are getting married in August. I had one of the kits in my to-do list and when I came across it the other day, there was a sense of feeling the right fit for the recipients. The threads have been separated and some stitching has begun. A fair bit should get done this week as I am parked in front of the television as much as possible to watch the Scott Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Women's national curling championship!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jan 13/12

Once I finished the Christmas ornament mania, I took a look at a project that was kitted up by the sister of a friend and then given to me by that friend. Her sister was going through a family crisis last and was needing to downsize her belongings so I was the lucky recipient! The parcel I received included the pattern, the fabric and the floss so all I have to do is stitch it. This design is called "Billede" from Oehlenshlager Design. The finished design is 39 x 63cm. 
I was going to post the picture from the front of the design package, but decided to leave you all in suspense and post as I stitch. This little snippet already reveals the subject. The picture on the pattern reminds me of a book I absolutely adored as a child, "Misty of Chincoteague".

No stitching will get done here for the next few weeks as I am heading to Africa for a few weeks. I am keen to check out Burkinabe textiles and to soak up the culture. Perhaps a small project might get tucked into my bag at the last minute to stitch on the flights.