Thursday, December 31, 2009

Before the Ball Drops - Year in Review

IMG_1019

Somehow it is December 31st. I am not sure where the year went, but I'm sure most of it was spent at school and work. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though and 2010 promises some wonderful things. I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on 2009 and all the amazing things it brought.

In 2009, I joined a walking team and completed five 5Ks, decreasing my time with each one. I completed my certifications in Microsoft Office at school, and am now certified in all five applications. Eric and I celebrated our three year anniversary with a trip to Turner Falls, OK. I joined my stitching friends on Thursdays at Barnes & Noble when I was able to get away from school, which allowed us all to become closer throughout the year. I attended my first two stitching workshops this year through my guild, Catherine Theron and Jane Timmers. There are many many other things that I have to be grateful for and new experiences I had this year.

I feel like I definitely got a lot of reading in this year, which was remarkable, and very nice. I have missed reading as much as I used to. Here's what I read in 2009...

The God of Small Things*
Two for the Dough
Giovanni and Lusanna*
Dead Until Dark
Pillars of the Earth
Three to Get Deadly
Old Masters: A Comedy*
Dark Lover
Bitter is the New Black
The Man Who Loved China*
Lover Eternal
The Elegance of the Hedgehog*
Vampire Diaries: The Awakening
Vampire Diaries: The Struggle
The Lovely Bones
The Host
Lover Awakened
Lover Revealed
Drums of Autumn
The Hunger Games

*Read for Artful Readings Book Club.

And although I didn't have as many finishes this year as I would have liked, I'm lucky and grateful to have gotten any in at all. I've linked all these to the finished photos, if you'd like a peek.

The Red Thread (here's a link to it bigger... link)
Twilight Floss Tag
At Home with Jane Austen
My Everything
Petites Lettres Rouge
Peacock Pinkeep
Earth Sampler
Monogram Pincushion
Happy Birthday Stocking
February's Violet Stocking
Angel of Tulips
Madeira Tin & Sewing Set (mostly finished)
Sylvia's Sampler
At Plimoth
Jenny Bean's Halloween Sampler

I also did some crafting, which I still need to show you. And two quilts are on the horizon to be finished - they are just lacking their binding. So, I'm sure I'll be adding to my 2010 finishes list pretty quickly once the New Year begins. Thanks to all of you who visit me here and touched my life in such an amazing way. Have a safe and wonderful end to 2009 and I'll see you on the other side.

Champagne


Happy New Year!

I am grateful for another great one!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Afterglow

Wreath with Snow

I hope you have all had very happy holidays! We have been enjoying ourselves and our families over the past week too. If you'd like to take a peek at our annual Eggnog & Dessert Party, you can see that here. On Christmas Eve we had snow again, which seems like some sort of record to me - twice in one year. It snowed off an on for a good portion of the afternoon and evening.

I appreciate all of your sweet comments on my stitching pieces that I've decorated with this year. I missed showing you a few, but probably you've seen them before. I did need to share this though. Remember my little sheep? Well, he was of course all decked out for the holidays as well. And that sweet little hand-painted wooden spool? That was a gift from my friend, Ava.

All Hearts Come Home

There hasn't been a whole lot of stitching going on over here, but I thought I'd show you what little progress I've made.

I've stitched on Sweet Treats a little bit. Working on those side borders.

Sweet Treats 122709

I also made a start finally on my Marbek Nativity. You may remember I was supposed to start this at Thanksgiving. But, I did start it on Christmas Day. I am stitching this with DMC on 36 count Sapphire linen from HeavenLee Creations. I love the fabric, it is gorgeous in person. My little white blob there will eventually be a sheep. I'm starting on the center panel first.

Center Panel Nativity 122709

And, in case you couldn't tell, I'm having a hard time settling down to any one piece. So, I've also been stitching on an ornament I started a long time ago. In fact, here's what it looked like the last time I worked on it - January of 2009.

Mele Kalikimaka 012509

And here's what it looks like as of this morning. This is Mele Kalikimaka by Monsterbubbles from the 2004 JCS Ornament Issue. It's stitched over one on 32ct with Silk n Colors. But being over one, with solid fill in, is slow going. Which is why, apparently, I keep picking it up and putting it back down. I'd like to finish it sooner rather than later, because it is really pretty. I'm working on the ocean currently, and still have the sky to fill in plus the little bit of backstitching.

Mele Kalikimaka 122809

And, in the hopes that I really will get some quilting done this coming year (oh I want to be like Laurie!!), one of my Christmas gifts was this quilt kit from The Country Sampler. Here's a link, scroll down a little bit and you can see the quilt on the bed. Isn't it pretty?!

Winter Trees Quilt Kit

I can't wait to get started. But, first I need to finish that little baby quilt. Yesterday I got the quilting done. Today, I should be able to get the binding done, and then voila, on to other things!

Oh, I've also been reading. On Christmas morning I finished this...


The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)

This book came highly recommended, so I thought I'd give it a shot. And no, there are no vampires in this, Gloria. Although I was hesitant to start anything else after finishing Drums of Autumn, this was the perfect choice. It was so good and immediately had me hooked. It was a very quick read, I think it took me a week or so. I am definitely going to be keeping this one in my library, and buying book 2, Catching Fire. This one was not on my Book Challenge list, but boy it was well worth deviating from the plan for it. After finishing this, I attempted to pick up the book for my next book club, but I quickly came to the decision that while I'm on vacation, I should be reading something fun, rather than reading about Impressionist painting, which can be a little dry. So, you can see what I picked up on my sidebar. It will be another quick read, then I can get back to the Impressionists.

Hope you're all enjoying your last bit of stitching before the end of the year. I have some other crafting to share with you, as well as a New Year's start that I'm really looking forward to. Until next time, stay warm and stitch on!

I am grateful for family and a man who spoils me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cozy

Hall Tree Ornaments

Thanks for all the compliments on Jenny Bean. I really appreciate it! Since finishing Jenny, I've been concentrating on getting ready for the holidays. Eric and I have been spending the last couple of weekends decorating, menu planning, addressing cards, and doing some of our annual traditions. I thought I'd show you some of the stitched items I've used in my decorating this year. The past few years I haven't gotten many of them out, but I tried to rectify that this year. Above, you can see one of trees. This one is filled mostly with handmade ornaments.

Stockings

And, our stockings hang on the mantel.

Christmas Cards

I fill this little basket with the cards we receive from friends and family. My Peace ornament found its home here again this year.

Winter Snapperland

I had almost forgotten about my Winter Snapperland. But, I found a place for it nonetheless. We change out some of our photos of our travels with holiday photos from our trip to New York, so I have those scattered throughout the house too.

Santas

It's been years since I got these little pillows out. That Mary Engelbreit Santa was the very first piece I stitched on linen. The little blue pillow Santa was actually a design for a knit sweater, but I liked it so much I used the chart and stitched him. He's kind of fun on that opalescent fabric.

I have a couple other stitchy type decorations, but I'll wait to show them to you next time since this post is already rather photo heavy!

So, since finishing Jenny Bean, I've been kind of hesitant to start on anything new - although I have several things I need to get cracking on - not the least of which is the 4th Day ornament for Eric. But, I just kind of felt that with all the hustle and bustle right now, I needed something rather mindless and comforting. So, I picked up my CCN Sweet Treats piece that I started some time ago. Here's what it looked like the last time I showed a progress photo.

Sweet Treats Block 1 071109

And here's what it looks like now. The colors in the photo above are much more accurate. I was attempting to take photos with my eyes shut apparently for the recent update photo.

Sweet Treats 122009

I'm stitching along on the border and then I'll go back to my blocks. I'm anxious to start on Block 2, which I think is Cupcake. Thankfully, when I started this, I was smart enough to print out the corrected border chart. So, hopefully, I will have no problems!

I've also been doing a little bit of jewelry making, which I am looking forward to sharing. But, you'll have to wait until after the gifts are given for that! I also have a quilt that is in desperate need of attention. I intended to work on this weekend - to do the quilting - but, I only got as far as measuring and cutting my batting and backing fabric. Oh well, maybe later this week I can make progress on it!

Anyway, I hope to have more lovely things to show you soon!

I am grateful for being taken care of - and Christmas carols while baking!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jenny and Jamie

Jenny Bean Cartouche Closeup

So, I know you've been wondering what the heck happened to Jenny Bean and her little Halloween house, right? The last time I posted about her, was back in mid-November, when I was so restless.

Jenny Bean Vase Closeup

Well, I finally got over my restlessness, and was anxious to get back to Miss Bean. But, stuff happened.

Jenny Bean Graveyard Closeup

You know the kind of stuff I'm talking about, suddenly you have deadlines, holidays, places to go, tea to drink. I did finally get all those things done, and after Thanksgiving, I picked my new favorite piece back up.

Jenny Bean Rat Closeup

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this piece. It has been rare that a piece so completely captures my attention, so much so that I completely let go of all of my perfectionistic tendencies and just go with whatever flow Jenny saw fit to throw at me.

And, I think the reward is well worth every stitch.

Jenny Bean Finished 121209

Jenny Bean's Halloween Sampler
Shakepeare's Peddler
Limited Edition GAST Threads on 40 ct Pearled Barley
Begun 10/4/09 and Finished 12/12/09

Ignore the wonkiness of my border, etc. I still had this in my q-snaps when I took the photo, but I was too excited to share to even take her out and iron her. Jenny will be sorely missed. I had way too much fun stitching on her. I definitely think I'll have to get the Christmas Sampler as well, because Halloween Jenny definitely needs Christmas Jenny as a companion.

Also this weekend, I had another finish.

Drums of Autumn (Outlander, #4)

I finally finished re-reading Drums of Autumn. I may have mentioned previously that I decided to re-read this series, and Drums of Autumn is the last book in the series that I have previously read. Everything from this point forward will be all new territory for me. I picked this book up and set it down several times over the past few months. But, after finishing my last read, I picked this one back up. I was attempting to read ahead of my mom, before lending these to her, but she informed me recently she's about to finish Voyager, which is the book before this one. I figured I'd better get my butt in gear. So, I picked this back up and somehow read the last 300+ pages in a week or so. Not sure how that happened, but it did. After finishing this book this morning, I realized why it is that this series is one of my absolute favorites. I own all of these in hardback, as they are most definitely staying in my library. The story of Jamie and Claire is not something you can easily forget, and their story stays with you long after the cover is closed. I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series, and the next, and the one after that. If you haven't read these books, drop everything you are doing and go directly to the bookstore to buy Outlander, the first in the series. Do nothing until you read that book. Then we'll talk. Och, Jamie, you are one fine man.

Oh, and P.S. - the gorgeous red and white tree in my last post is not mine, but that of our hostess for the party, Ava. Don't you love that tree?

I am grateful for a decorated home.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Beginning of the Season

Red and White Tree

I guess it's that time of year when my blogging becomes a little sparse - too much to do at home, school and work, and not nearly enough time to do it in. But, I have lots to share! Last week, goodness was it only last week?, I attended my first Christmas party of the season. My guild held its annual holiday party, and it was my second year to attend. Of course the home it was held in is magnificent. We had a good turnout, even with bad weather. Everyone brought food to share, and we had a veritable feast. I may still be recovering from the chocolate Amaretto cake. It is always so fun to visit with fellow stitchers, particularly those you don't get to visit with at the guild meetings. Last year I remember having so much fun and getting to know a few sweet people that I now call my friends. I brought a super yummy spinach and artichoke dip, that had a little kick to it and was oh-so-good.

After all the eating, we settled in to do the ornament exchange. Everyone who brought a stitched ornament drew numbers, and then each person got to select an ornament to open or one to steal. It was great fun, and you can see below all the amazing ornaments that made an appearance this year. If you look closely, you can see the little ornament underneath the framed one, the one that says "Merry Christmas". One of my fellow stitchers (whose work I am always enamored with) stitched this one, on 50 count. Yes, you read that right. And she added the sweetest little beaded edging around the ornament. If it hadn't already been stolen too many times before I got my chance, that baby would have been coming home with me!!

TRSG Ornament Exchange

As it was, I was very happy with the ornament I did go home with. I loved that this had our guild's name abbreviated on it. And the bargello was just too pretty to resist.

TRSG Ornament

You may remember last year, the pretty ornament I received? I can't wait to get it out for my tree this year. I'd love to have a little sampler tree full of ornaments. Oh and let me tell you, I am still kicking myself for not having my camera with me at last year's party. What a duh moment that was.

And look at this pretty one...I think this is from that new BBD book. Now, I have to have that book!!

Noel


And here's what I stitched for the exchange. This was my very first time finishing an ornament with board and cording and everything. I have Jane Timmers to thank for that - her workshop was completely instrumental in the skills needed to do this finishing myself. I also learned how to make cording that same weekend from Laurie (she of the 50-count fame). So, thanks to Jane, Laurie and Eric (who held the other end of my cord), this ornament turned out pretty darn good for a first attempt. You may remember I stitched this one a little while back, it's Angel of Tulips by Goode Huswife. I stitched two - one for me and one for the exchange. Mine isn't finished yet though.

Angel of Tulips Finished 112809

So, it was a wonderful evening and I had so much fun. I wish there had been more time to visit with everyone, but there is always next year's party!

And, really quick, I wanted to update you on my reading escapades. I finished another Black Dagger Brotherhood book - I think it may have taken me all of a week. I've had to ground myself from reading anymore of these until I get caught back up at school. How sad is that? True though.

Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #4)

So, after finishing this, I picked up Drums of Autumn again, as you can see. I only lack about 200 pages to finish it. So, after a long hiatus (well, a couple of months anyway), I think I'll finish it.

I have more to show you, but it will probably have to wait for another day - hopefully not too long though!

I am grateful for good friends.