Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

I am still under the weather, but hopefully by the end of the week I will be much improved. That would be nice, since I have lots of things I want to do! I am attempting to keep up with everything though.

Motif from Tantes Zolder Needleminder
GAST Ltd Edition Zinnia on 28ct Sugar Cookie from Silkweaver
Stitched over one
Beaded Ruffle with Mill Hill 03033
Finished 10/16/07

First things first, I made this needleminder for Jenna for her birthday. Making and/or sending birthday gifts are a rare thing for me, but I really wanted to do something for Jenna this year. I chose a freebie design from My Aunt's Attic (Tantes Zolder). I was a little late getting this out in the mail, but Jenna assures me it brightened her day. Happy birthday, Jenna!

As Bethlehem Slept
Shepherd's Bush ornament from JCS Ornament Issue 2005
Weeks and GAST on 32ct Dark Espesso Linen by R&R
Embellished with Sterling Inn Charm
Finished 10/30/07

Secondly, last night I finished stitching the Shepherd's Bush ornament I've been sporadically working on. I only have two more to stitch! Which reminds me, I need to order the charm for this year's ornament. I love this one, so much more than the last one I stitched. Maybe I love it because all of the colors, or maybe for the little sheep?

Yesterday I also finished reading the book for my book club (which is Friday...typical Michelle, huh?!). This book was fabulous!! It is about Hans Holbein, the painter, and the family of Thomas More, during the time that Henry VIII was wanting to marry Anne Boleyn. Really a fascinating read. I had to keep referring to Holbein's paintings while I was reading the book because of all of the hidden meanings and plays on words the book discusses in them. I highly recommend this book. Not sure what I'll read next, but I'll be sure to let you know how it is!

Since it's the end of October, I thought I'd take a quick look at those year end goals I set for myself and see how I'm doing with two months left.

1. Finishing on all of my finished but unfinished pieces. I finished the two pinkeeps, fob and wallhanging; still have three pieces to frame

2. Finish stitching on Baby Garden and frame to send for Christmas

3. Finish Shepherd's Bush ornaments and make into wall hanging for Christmas finished one of the three I had left

4. Stitch and finish 2nd Day of Christmas ornament for Eric kitted up and ready to start

5. Get to the halfway mark on Tesori

6. Keep up with Neighborhood RR working on Kathy's right now

7. Sew on quilt squares, get ready to start wedding quilt in January have not worked on my quilt squares, but I did get my quilts ready to drop off for quilting.

8. Blog more consistently - let's shoot for every other day this was going pretty well until I got sick

9. Take stock of my 101 Things List and cross some more things off I've crossed one thing off!

10. Organize our travel photos - print and make books

11. Continue with Home Project, finish three rooms (1 per month) I am waiting on a mat I ordered, and then I will have my October room done.

12. Read two books per month Only read one this month

13. Finish writing my two poems I think I have one finished, but I'm letting it percolate a little while to be sure

14. Focus on my fitness, continue my weight loss - meet my end of year goal weight continuing with workouts, definitely seeing a difference in the inches!

15. Decorate for the holidays, enjoy and relax! I had fun decorating for Halloween.

I think I'm doing ok, but I'll have to move it into high gear in order to get everything done by the end of the year. As soon as I get Kathy's RR finished, I intend to press on with Baby Garden and would like to have it finished by the end of November. That way, I won't be stressing about finishing it for Christmas (see this is why I don't stitch gifts very often!!).

Hope you all have a happy Halloween. I wore my snake earrings to work today as my subtle nod to the holiday. I saw a woman on my way to my desk with a bright orange shirt on and jack-o-lantern antennae on her head. Not-so-subtle. Anyway, thought I'd show you this photo from South Street in Philadelphia. I thought the building was interesting. It's a tattoo parlor.

Tonight we'll be watching Bram Stoker's Dracula, in keeping with tradition.

I am grateful for ghoulies and ghosties, long leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Horrifed! and Number 28

Horrified! Limited Edition WhimZi
Just Nan
DMC on 32ct Zweigart Cobblestone Belfast Linen
Framed with Black and Gold Jack-o-Lantern Frame
Finished 10/26/07

Still under the weather, so this will be a short post. I finished the stitching on my Just Nan Whimzi earlier this week, and finally got it finished and put into the frame last night. I think it turned out pretty cute. All four of the jack-o-lanterns' faces are different, which I didn't realize until I was stitching them. Love the spider in the middle.

Eric got the dowel rod cut for me this morning so that I could hang the wedding quilt my best friend made for us. I think it looks really nice in our bedroom, and I am so pleased to finally have it hanging where we can see it. And this also fulfills number 28 on my 101 Things in 1001 Days list, "Hang Julia's wedding gift". Now, if I can get Mystery 9 finished, it will look beautiful in the bedroom too!!

In my Hoffman email yesterday, I saw that LHN and CCN both have new releases. I LOVE the new CCN, Gingerbread Cottage.

That's about all I have today. Eric has been playing with his new ipod that I gave him for his birthday, so he's been sitting at the computer sifting through mp3s to put on it. That should give me a chance to lay on the couch and blow my nose some more. Maybe I can do some stitching too.

Eric thanks you for all the birthday wishes.

I am grateful for finishing things.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Blustery Day

Thanks so much for all the compliments on my quilts - hopefully, I will have all three of those finished soon! Not too much going on here today. I went home sick from work yesterday and am still feeling yucky. I think all the wind we've been having combined with the temperature changes has thrown my allergies into a turmoil. Hopefully I will be feeling better soon. I read mostly while I was home yesterday, but last night I did attempt to do some stitching. I worked a little on my Shepherd's Bush ornament. This is As Bethlehem Slept. (I think I have two more after this one). I had sort of stalled on this one because I was having trouble with one of my threads. But, I think I'm set now. It was probably a good idea last night to work on something that is small and doesn't require a lot of concentration.

And Gayle left a comment asking if I still knit and pointing out a LYS for me to try out. Thanks, Gayle! I haven't picked up my knitting since we went to Austin, until night before last. I had made some sort of error several rows back and needed to fix it. So, I Tuesday night I wasn't in the mood to stitch, so I got out my Homespun Wrap and undid several rows of knitting, back past the error. I'm not entirely sure I have everything fixed, but at least maybe it got me over being stuck. Not a great photo, since it is still so overcast in the mornings, but that's my knitting.

And today is Eric's birthday. Poor thing, he's been putting up with me not feeling well. I did make him a cake over the weekend though. He had requested a Sicilian Cake. It's basically got ladyfingers on the bottom and the sides, then the filling is ricotta cheese, sugar, vanilla, rum, heavy cream and crushed pineapple.

On top there are chopped walnuts, semi sweet chocolate chips and glaceed cherries.

Eric licked the bowl, so it must be good. We'll find out soon!

I am grateful for reading.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary

Thanks for all the comments on my last post! My blogging schedule is off a little bit, but here I am nonetheless. On Saturday I had my sewing class on how to use my new machine. I feel a little more comfortable with it now and can't wait to do some more sewing. I'll go back next month for a class on how to use the embroidery part of my machine. That should be interesting! So, the first order of business with regard to sewing, is that I need to piece the backs for two quilts so that I can take them to be quilted. I've only ever done my own quilting, but I figure these have been sitting around long enough as just quilt tops, that I'd really like to get them finished! The first one is actually the second quilt top I ever made (the first one is halfway quilted, and I need to get back to it).

I took my very first quilting class back in 2002, I think. I had never really sewn before, and felt like I was way behind everyone else. So, in class we made a sampler quilt, and with each block learned a different technique. In order to really grasp what I was learning, I made two quilts - one in class, and one at home. My first quilt is the one from class (I'll be showing you that one soon, hopefully), and my second quilt (above), is the one I made at home. I used the same blocks, sometimes with different layouts, and with completely different fabrics. So, this quilt top has been finished for about five years, and as soon as I piece the back, I can drop it off to be quilted.

The next quilt I started was a block of the month project as my quilt store where I was taking the classes. You paid $5 for the first block (the fabrics and the instructions), and if you brought in the finished block the next month, your next block was free. So this is my $5 quilt. You can't beat that, can you?? This one needs a pieced back as well, and then it is off to be quilted too! I will be so glad to have these two quilts finished. Maybe it's like second sock syndrome that knitters have, except that I get stalled after the top is finished, and never seem to get around to the quilting. So this is my third quilt top. And as you can see, my helper came in to inspect.

And next on my list after getting those two off to the quilter will be to work on fixing this one. This is a table topper, and it is partially quilted. I'm not happy with the quilting though, so I need to rip it out and start over. It shouldn't take very long to quilt, I just need to do it. It would be nice to have it finally done for Valentine's Day.

So those are the quilting/sewing plans for now. I would really really like to get some things out of my unfinished pile before the end of the year. I'm sure many of you can relate!

But, since I can never have too much stash, I bought a few little charts over the weekend when I went to my LNS for beads (you can't just buy beads, right?!).

I bought two Stacy Nash charts (Hallow's Eve and 3 Little Pumpkins), because I am loving them right now. I also bought a Notforgotten Farm chart called "Thomas".

Also, my next block for Leanne's House came yesterday. I think I have two more months to go on this one. Once I get some of these quilts in my pile finished, I can start on this one (oh and my wedding quilt too!!).
I should have some stitching things to show you by the end of the stay tuned!! And thank you all for visiting, I appreciate it!

Thought I would leave you with some more Philadelphia photos...

This is the Edgar Allan Poe House. The Raven sculpture at the top of the post is outside the house. When our tour guide took us outside to see the sculpture, he wouldn't let us back in until someone could give him the first line of the poem "The Raven" (see post title). I knew that would come in handy one day!

This is from the Rodin museum. These are The Gates of Hell. Really amazing, and HUGE! I had wanted to go to the museum just to see this piece in person. Well worth the parking ticket we got, I think! Whoops! But, really, the doors are so detailed and are just covered with figures in high relief.

I am grateful for getting those quilts out to work on.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Encyclopedia of Me - C

Well, here I am finally with "C". I've chosen a couple of things to represent "C". First and foremost, of course is...

Cozy Egg: You may wonder where this name came from. Several years ago, I decided to start making and selling bath salts and other bath products made with essential oils. I needed a name to sell them under, and wanted to choose something that would be a good name if I chose to use it in the future for other ventures. So, I came up with the name Cozy Egg. I participated in a local craft fair and sold a variety of products. You can see my table in the photo above. I sold bath salts, bath teas, salt scrubs, milk baths, gift baskets, etc. A friend of mine made soaps as well to sell under the Cozy Egg label. I don't do as much with my bath salts these days, mainly due to lack of space to make them. But, I do still enjoy them and keep some on hand for myself.

Costume Design: When I was at school, I came really close to going into Costume Design rather than Art History, although I think the two sort of go hand in hand. I have such a love of movies and of costuming, that I think it would have been a great fit. But, Renaissance Woman though I may be, I guess I can't do everything. I thought I'd share with you a few examples that I like.

'tis the season - I thought I'd choose two from Bram Stoker's Dracula.

I'm such a sucker for a red dress.

And Lucy's Snake Dress.

Another favorite movie, The Age of Innocence.


And of course, Marie Antoinette - love this photo.

There's a little more about me, oh and one more thing... I've got some more Halloween decorating photos from my house over at the other blog, cozystyle.

I am grateful for my love of beauty.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Smiles All Around

Hello, all! I meant to post yesterday, but with Blogger's photo uploading issues, I didn't feel like fighting with it. So, here I am today! I am steadily working on reading my way through blog updates, I'll get to everyone eventually. Thank you all so much for continuing to check in on my blog(s) and comment even when I am behind on reading. I really appreciate it. And I guess I must be doing something right, because I received the You Make Me Smile Award from Anna at Stitch Bitch and from Melissa at The Inspired Room. Thank you both!! I am now obliged to return the favor by naming ten people who make me smile. It is so hard to narrow that list down, but I thought I'd try to choose some blogs that may be new to some of you and those that I've been particularly enjoying recently.

Annemarie at Wacky Wanderings
Mary Kathryn at Happy Stitcher

Of course, each and every one of you are a treasure to me and I so appreciate the time and effort you take to share yourself and your art with all of us, as well as the time and effort you take to comment and read each of our blogs. Thank you!

As for what I've been up to lately? I did a little Halloween decorating, which is always fun. I have finished up the stitching on the second gift I've been working on, and now just need to do the finishing on both. I've got my next Neighborhood RR to start on and I just need to pull my threads for it. It's gonna be a fun piece to stitch on. It's a summer/beach theme, which I LOVE! So, I'll be making a start on that in the next couple of days. I've also been trying to make some time to read my book for my next book club. We're reading Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett, which is wonderful so far. I just need to make time to sit down with it.

I've also been steadily going to the gym and working with my trainer. Yesterday I had my one month fitness assessment. I've definitely improved in strength and endurance, as well as I've lost an inch in my waist, an inch in my hips, half an inch in my shoulders, an inch and a half in each of my thighs and an inch in each of my biceps. Isn't that cool! I'm not seeing a change on the scale, but I'm good with fitting into a smaller size and losing those inches!! So, rah rah rah for me!

We are going through yet another round of layoffs here at work, so if you could all just join me in being positive about the situation, no matter the outcome, I would appreciate it.

Thank you all again for stopping by. I'll post some more Philadelphia photos soon, I didn't want to press my luck with the photo upload thing today.

Walk to Rivendell: Leave road and head north into Chetwood. No living things all day. (Total Miles Walked 146).

I am grateful for reason and support when I feel like I'm in turmoil.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

Thank you all for your well-wishes for my migraine to go away. I think I finally got it subdued. But, I completely forgot to post more Phildelphia photos on Friday because of it! So, more to come soon. But, in the mean time...I have a few other things to show you.

As I mentioned on Friday, Eric was gone for 24 hours to Wisconsin for work. So, I loaded up the DVD player and sat down to stitch on Tesori. I so wish I was a faster stitcher. I had anticipated getting at least two blocks done. I didn't even get one finished. I did get the border done, which is the time consuming part, and made a start on St. Peter's. I'm currently stitching on the Lazio region, which includes Rome. Oh well, I enjoyed my time and my movies. But, I am glad to have him back home.

Also on Friday, in my weekly email from Hoffman, I saw that the new Shepherd's Bush stocking has been released. It's another cute one!

On Saturday, when Eric got home we had intended to get together with a friend and go over to the Cocktail Hour over at the museum and then go to dinner. She wasn't available, so we just went out for Thai Food instead and spent the evening relaxing. On Sunday, we went to the State Fair. Eric likes to do this every year as part of his birthday celebration. Last year I didn't take any photos, so I decided to bring my camera this time. It was a little overcast yesterday, so several of my photos turned out dark. Sorry for that.

Here's Big Tex, a Texas State Fair icon. He's 52 feet tall.

Mmm...frozen margaritas!

Last year they had the Marilyn Monroe exhibit with artwork of her as well as costumes. This year, they had costumes too. No photos in the exhibit unfortunately, but they had a lot of beauties. They had a replica of the green dress from Gone With the Wind (the one she wears at the beginning to the barbecue with the straw hat), the blue velvet dress from Titanic, the white dress from My Fair Lady, several costumes from Cleopatra and Memoirs of a Geisha. The black fur-trimmed dress from Moulin Rouge, a white gown from Marie Antoinette, and so on. It was a small, but well worth it exhibit.

We saw Miranda Lambert in concert that afternoon. Eric got some better photos, but you'll have to settle for mine.

We wandered through the midway after the concert and I loved all the lights. Here you can see the Texas Star ferris wheel lit up in the background. They brought back the Sky Cars too this year.

More colors and lights.

Yes, the sign below does say "fried Oreos". I did not see any signs for fried Twinkies or fried Coke, so you'll just have to settle for the marshmallow/Snickers/praline/Oreos fry-nanza.

And of course, we couldn't leave without seeing the carousel.

It was a fun day, and I think Eric enjoyed himself. We've started his birthday celebrations off right!

I've been stitching on a gift, if you can believe it, the past couple nights - so nothing else stitching wise to show you! Have a great week!

Walk to Rivendell: Reach Bree. Stay at The Prancing Pony. Meet Strider. Ponies stolen during night. Leave Bree on East Road (ca. 9:30 a.m.). (Total Miles Walked: 135.5)

I am grateful for decorating and ideas.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Migraine, Migraine Go Away

Really no stitching this week, due to a migraine the past couple of days. I think I've managed to get rid of it now, but I still have my fingers crossed. Here's a recent photo of Baby Garden anyway, so that you can see the cats and the beeskeps. I have over one squirrels and hearts to do next.

But, I am taking a little break from this piece today and tomorrow. I've taken the day off work and I will have 24 hours while Eric is in Wisconsin to stitch on Tesori. I haven't stitched on it in awhile, so I will be glad to get in some solid stitching on it. I've got ten blocks to stitch by the end of the year, so I am hoping I can at least get a few out of the way in 24 hours. Of course, I do have to sleep too, I guess. I have some movie watching planned too. Every fall I have two movies I like to watch, You've Got Mail (I love the seasons in this film) and Practical Magic. So, that's on my agenda today. And until Eric leaves, I'll be trying to catch up on my blog reading.

My Silkweaver Fabric of the Month arrived yesterday. This month's selections are Seafoam and an Exclusive no-name piece. Love them both!

And finally, in the spirit of the Finish What You Have project over at Turkey Feathers, I am trying to get a few things out of that "I really need to do something with this" pile. You've seen my recent pinkeeps and my wallhanging, so far so good! My best friend made this gorgeous whole cloth quilt for Eric and I for our wedding. She completely quilted it by hand. When she gave this to us, I had decided to frame it in a shadowbox frame and hang it in our bedroom. Needless to say, this is still not done. I would have to have a custom frame built for it, which is the main reason I haven't framed it. So, in an effort to actually have it out to enjoy, I'm going to stitch muslin sleeves on the back so that I can hang it. I thought I'd give you a sneak peak though since I have it out on my craft table. I am kind of feeling like the warmth of a quilt is lost when you put it behind glass, so a wallhanging is probably a better option anyway.

And I haven't forgotten my Encyclopedia of Me...but "C" has to wait until Eric scans a photo for me. Sigh.

Walk to Rivendell: Reach dike and hedge. Former boundary of Cardolan, part of the North Kingdom of Arnor. (Total Miles Walked: 130).

I am grateful for Finishing What I Have.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The New Machine

This past weekend, in between making pinkeeps, I finally had time to get my new sewing machine out of the box and use it. This was my birthday gift from Eric. It does sewing and embroidery. I will be taking two classes at the place where we bought it to learn how to use both functions. My first class, to learn the sewing part, is on the 20th. But, I managed to wind a bobbin, and do some actual sewing. Aside from sewing up one of Eric's shirts, I also managed to finish this.

This is Primitive Tree by Ewe & I & Friends. Notice the date on it. Yep, apparently it's been sitting in my finished bucket for five years. I still need to make a hanger for it, but at least the sewing part is done!!!

Here's the backing fabric I chose.

My favorite part I think is the buttons. I just had these in my stash.

I haven't gotten much stitching done the past two nights, but I hope to remedy that tonight. Last night after working out and dinner, Eric and I sat down and started talking and before we knew it, it was almost bedtime! So, I flipped through a magazine for about twenty minutes, and then tried to sleep with my neighbor's porch light shining in my eyes. Ugh! That thing was still on this morning!

Anyway, I really need to piece two quilt backs so that I can take the quilts to be quilted soon. I've been needing to do that for at least three months now. So, that is my next sewing project!

Here are some more Philadelphia photos in the meantime. Oh, and more home photos over at the other blog (link in sidebar).

On Saturday of our trip, we headed out to Forbidden Drive. The name is misleading, as I somehow ended up on a nature hike! I mean, climbing over fallen trees, and scrabbling through the underbrush, kind of nature hike. Not what I had envisioned at all. It was pretty though!

Next, we headed over to the Japanese House, which is a reconstructed 16th-century samurai's dwelling that was built in Japan and moved to this location in 1958. The house is called Shofu-So, which means "pine breeze villa".

This kimono was displayed inside.

From there we headed to the Italian Market, which was not overly exciting. But, we found a place with pretty good gelato. From there, we went to Chinatown to see the Chinese Friendship Gate. It is a 40-foot-tall arch, which is the largest authentic Chinese gate outside China.

If you can believe it, we completely missed this the first time we drove by it.

After that, we went back to the hotel and then on to Eric's cousin's wedding. The wedding was beautiful, albeit a little warm for an outdoor wedding. But, we had a fantastic time!

Walk to Rivendell: Ride north through a gap. (Total Miles Walked: 119.75)

I am grateful for my new sewing machine.