Saturday, January 30, 2016

Not to sound ungracious...

But the heat has been on.  Yes, it's been downright chilly here in the Sunshine State and last night we had to switch from  AC to Heat.  One advantage is that I sleep better in a chilly room.  Where do you set your thermostat when you go to bed?  When I'm at home in the frozen north, it slides down to about 63.  I can't manage that here though.  I think the AC would blow up.

So...what a month!  Starting in December - Holidays and travelling can be exhausting, am I right?  We were lucky - our travel was amazingly smooth and without complications, but I can't say the same for many of the people I encountered in the airports.  We spent Christmas in Georgia and the New Year in Pittsburgh.  And I loved every minute but was glad to unpack my bag and be settled here in Florida for a while.

Florida...where I thought I'd be having all kinds of time to stitch and stitch and stitch.  Except I don't.  Late in December and all through January I've been reading like Henry Bemis from the Twilight Zone.
Look how happy he is before.....Well, you know.

In December and January I read 11 books, and that's a crazy lot for me.  My last book was All the Light We Cannot See and I loved it.  It was one of those that I would put down and then spend all my time away from it wondering what would happen next.

I've been playing cards with some of the ladies from my condo complex.  I'll tell you, just knowing people's names here and having them know mine makes a huge difference in my happiness.  I don't feel the loneliness that I felt last year.

And a local stitching store has three (3!) stitch ins every week!  I've gone once and will for sure go again.

But even though I'm not stitching like I thought I would, I've had ONE finish, and I'm pretty happy about it because it'll be the first piece of stitching created specifically for our Florida home.  Although I love my Pittsburgh framer, I'll have it framed at the stitching store here.  Hopefully next week. In the meantime, here are a couple pictures:

BBD's Beneath the Sunlit Sky

Saturday, December 12, 2015

December NOT Stitch from Stash

Even though Stitch from Stash didn't last, I have to give it credit for inspiring me to check into my blog each month.  It may not have been Pulitzer prize-winning stuff and some of you were bored out of your wits reading my monthly stash spending posts, but writing still felt good. we are in December.  I'm trying to wrap my head around to these winter holidays while living in a climate that - other than having shorter days - is decidedly NOT winter.  Last year we arrived on New Year's Eve, still in winter clothes and not quite ready to shed them.  But this year we arrived much earlier and let me tell you... I don't even remember what my jeans and sweaters look like. since I popped in here last, we visited our son in Georgia for Thanksgiving.  I had a great week there and OMG - that boy can cook a turkey that's unbelievable!  My daughter-in-law and I cooked all the side dishes and they were great, but the turkey?  Probably the best I've ever eaten.

In between shopping and getting the kitchen ready for the Big Day, I squeezed in time to visit the Georgia Museum of Art to see the exhibit of Georgia's Girlhood Embroidery.  What a delight! I've downloaded a couple of the online photos from the webpage, but seeing them in person was much, much better.

Frances Rowe - photo from Georgia Museum of Art website.

Mary Smallwood Sampler - photo from Georgia Museum of Art website

After Thanksgiving we left Georgia and drove on down to St. Petersburg Florida, our home for the next 6 months.

I'll share some of my recent stitching with you.  I know everyone everywhere is stitching wonderful Christmas and Winter pieces, but not me.  I honestly can't get into it.  So I've been stitching a BBD piece that I've had in my stash forever.  I even recharted it to read "The lake appears all golden", but times have changed and its original text is just fine now.  I have lots more stitching to do on this, but here's where I am now:

I'm working on finding a home for my other needlework in our Florida home.  So much of my stitching has been very traditional, but Florida architecture and interior decorating feels quite different than that.  So I'm trying to find a balance - tropical and beachy without being twee and still feeling kind of traditional.  I've come across a few mermaid pieces and some nautical samplers, but if anyone has any specific suggestions, I'd be happy to read them.

So that's what's up with me for the month of December. I'll be back in January, but in the meantime, I'll leave you with a sunset over Boca Ciega Bay. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November Stitch from Stash

Oh well.  Not really.

For a number of reasons, the Stitch from Stash program is over.  I enjoyed it while it lasted, but our leader needed to take care of other things in her life so our little group is no more.  I say good for her...(and without a trace of sarcasm).    It's good to set priorities in life and realize when something you're doing simply doesn't fit your life anymore.

I was on a downhill coast to the end of the year anyway.  I had a good healthy balance in my "available to spend" line and few opportunities to whittle it away between October and December.  But without dwelling too much on dollars and cents, here's what I discovered about my spending:

  1. I really and truly can control my spending on charts.  Unless my tastes change dramatically over the next year or two, I can look at a chart and control myself by realizing I have something very, very similar in my stash already.  And it's probably kitted up and has been waiting patiently for me to take a needle to it.  For about 5 years or more. 
  2. If I'm going to splurge on charts, it'll probably be online.  My self-control flits away there. In a shop, I walk around with a chart in my hand for a while and then tell myself I don't need it.  Online?  It goes into my shopping cart and I'm less likely to re-evaluate and put it back.  It's too easy to just click, click, click.
  3. I lose all control while I'm looking at fabric in a brick and mortar shop.  Even though I'm almost always shopping for one piece of fabric for one particular project, I'm likely to leave with at least four pieces of fabric.  It's kind of a half impulse buy and half  "I may never see this again" feeling.  Fabric is like that.  And those baskets of cut fabrics in unusual sizes?  Just dump them ALL in my shopping bag.  That never happens if I buy online though. I buy what I need and I'm done.
  4. I don't go nuts on threads, but I will say that I'm not a bit frugal with threads.  I seem to buy all new threads for every project.  I've been screwed too often by overdyeds' wildly different dye lots, so often I don't even go to my stash to look for thread.  I just buy all new.  That'll eat up a budget quickly.
  5. It's not just overdyeds.  I buy all new DMC, too.  There's just something about walking out of the store with a bouquet of fresh and new DMC threads that makes me happy.  
Does anyone else out there have the same shopping behaviors?  If my buying behaviors are common, do you think shop owners are aware of this?  Big box stores throw loads of money into researching customer buying patterns and into how to maximize buying by using your store's layout.  I wonder if small shop owners have access to the same kinds of studies.  

I'm getting ready to leave the lake for the winter. For the next few months I'm trading in an icy lake for a warm bay.  Dave actually left a few weeks ago and took the big stuff with him, so I'm left with the small stuff.  I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but the small stuff is some of the most significant stuff.  Like small electronics and chargers and bathroom and kitchen things...not to mention the work files I need to take.  And of course, a couple bags of stitching and quilting things! 

And I'll tell you, being alone for these weeks hasn't been all fun.  With so many evenings alone, I thought I'd get all kinds of stitching time, but I didn't.  Luckily I had a couple of stitching days with friends, otherwise I'd have been a total slug.  Mostly I worked on the Plenty and Grace sampler.  There's still SO MUCH TO DO!

I'll write again and include some pictures once I get settled down south.  That car isn't going to pack itself.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October Stitch from Stash

As always, first the numbers:

Available to Spend in October:  $96.00
Amount I spent:                         ($12.80)
Amount I earned:                        $8.00
What I can spend in November:  $91.20.....not bad!

October was a crazy and often frustrating month, so I'm happy to have any stitching to report at all, let alone a finish.  I think it was this particular design that spurred me on...when I think about my life I realize how blessed I am.  And many, many of my blessings are because I have such terrific friends.

Threadworks Primitives:  My Treasures

I'm just back from our 6th stitching friends' weekend in North East, Pennsylvania.  North East is a sweet little town and home to lots of scenic wineries, nice little restaurants and the home of the largest plant for  Welch's foods.  Trains come through the town all day, many carrying payloads of grapes.  Some years we get strong whiffs of grape-scented air.  Pretty cool.

I took this quote directly from the Welch's website:
Home to our largest manufacturing plant, the North East location has over 350 employees who produce 280 different juices, jams, and jellies that are so distinctively Welch's. This plant manufactures over 29 million cases a year by employees working across six different packaging lines. Employees also manage up to 17 million gallons of juice in 76 refrigerated tanks throughout the year to manage an average annual harvest season of 125,000 tons of grapes delivered from 724 grower-owners in the region.

So my stitching friends and I had a wonderful weekend, stitching and eating and laughing and listening to the train whistles blow.  I am really blessed!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Stitch from Stash

First, the numbers:
Available to spend in September:        $67.00
I spent:                                                ($20.00)
I earned:                                               $24.00
Plus October allowance                       $25.00
So I can spend this much in October!  $96.00  (this feels like a challenge...)

And here's how I earned some bucks back.  First of all, it helped that I didn't have any more children getting married over the past month.  And I went to a stitching retreat over Labor Day weekend.  The theme for my retreat should have been:

How to stitch a house in three days (between eating, laughing and sleeping a lot):

Because took me all three days to stitch that house.  And there are two more houses to build before I can call this sampler even close to complete.  PLUS more grass to stitch than what's growing on the White House lawn.

Another finish was waiting patiently in my Florida bag.  (Meaning it hadn't been unpacked since May.) While we were in Florida I stitched most of last year's PS Santa card except the words and the notes.  After stitching on tiny count all weekend my eyes needed a rest, so finishing him up was a nice break.  Now I've started another... the 1991 Santa.  I love these guys on 18ct linen.

Prairie Schooler 2014 Santa

Are you wondering what I purchased?  Well, it's not here yet, (still in the mail) so I don't have a photo, but I went nuts and bought another one of those crazy OOP Prairie Schooler charts, #42 Angels.  Here's what they look like when they're stitched (online photos of the chart cover were pretty poor quality):
Picture is from a Japanese blog that you can find here:

One of my stitching friends is working on these and they are really vivid in person.  So I've been obsessing about this chart for a year.  And the chart is amazingly hard to find, but I guess I can see why.  These angels weren't the sort of thing people stitched in 1993.  I feel like back in 1993 everyone was all about those Lavender and Lace angels.  And in 1993 I had two pre-schoolers running around the house and no Internet for stash shopping, so I wasn't stitching much of anything.

That's all for this month.  October will be pretty quiet around here unless my Pirates are in the baseball playoffs.  (fingers crossed!!)  It's always a good month for catching up on a book or two and stitching during Sunday football games.

So...I'll talk to you next month!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August Stitch from Stash

We always put the re-cap at the top, so here we go:

Available to spend in August:  $30.00
What I spent:                              $0.00
Amount carried to September:  $30.00
September allowance:               $25.00
Amount earned for finishes  :    $12.00
What I can spend in Sept:          $67.00

Well, what a month!  You won't believe this, but we had another wedding this month.   I have some photos and you can see them in just a minute.  But first....

I finished the fourth PS Santa from Old World Santas.  Ever since I started using Instagram, my brothers and sisters have been "claiming" my finishes, so I think these are all spoken for.  Maybe.  If they're nice to me.  (I'm joking.  It's the least I can do after asking them to traipse all over creation to attend my kids' weddings.)

Isn't this next one cute?  It's a kit from SummerHouse Stitchworkes.  The thing about it I couldn't resist was the wooden nickel.  When my kids played baseball and soccer, wooden nickels were like gold.  See, at each game one of us moms or dads would go to the concession stand and buy a stack of wooden nickels for our team.  Then at the end of the game, the kids would each get a wooden nickel (worth 50 big cents!), clutch them in their little hands and run over to buy a bag of popcorn or some Sour Patch Kids or a can of pop. Win or lose, that run to the concession stand was joyful. So you can see why I loved the wooden nickel in this kit.

And here's my last finish.  You saw that I bought this last month for Newlywed Couple #1.  I've changed the fabric though.  Black or dark grey would have looked great, but this blue matches their camper and having some glittery and opalescent accents makes it even better.  I'll finish it pretty can see that I've found some nice backing fabric and trim.  Now I just need to decide if I want to finish it flat or pillow shaped.

OK, so last weekend our son got married!  This wedding was very small and intimate, but it was just as beautiful and sweet and special as our daughter's larger wedding.

We had a gorgeous evening wedding at a small winery in Northern Georgia.  Honestly, the weather was cool and dry and ideal...not what you'd expect for an August wedding in Georgia.  So the kids had their marriage ceremony there, and then we spent a little bit of time in the winery tasting room for some wonderful wines and delicious cheese, bread and jam.  Like a small cocktail party.

Then we took a short drive to yet another winery for a delicious meal and more wine.  Then back home for wedding cake. It was a lovely, lovely wedding.

So, two weddings in two months.  Both children are happy.  And as a result, my family has two wonderful new children.  I'll tell you...I feel like I'm livin' the dream!

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 2015 Stitch from Stash report

So's time for 2015 Stitch From Stash Part B (July-December).  I don't think I had any doubts that I'd re-up for the rest of 2015.  First of all, I really like the budgeting part.  It makes me think  before I buy, and although I won't go so far as saying I'm depriving myself, I feel a certain measure of healthy control.  And then there's the fun of reporting.  Clearly I'm not blogging as much as I used to, so this has helped me back into regular writing.  Even if it's short and sweet - it's still something, right?

And here are my numbers;

Balance at June 30:  $89.00
July Allowance:       $25.00
Spent in July:           ($84.00)
Remaining cash         
carried into August   $30.00 

I've put some more stitches into Plenty and Grace...enough to confidently stitch in a place holder to start the dreaded houses.  Ugh.  I hate stitching houses.  They bore me to tears, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do and if I love samplers, I have to stitch the occasional house, so I'll just suck it up and build three houses into this sampler!

I've also kept stitching my paper PS Santas.  Love, love, love them, and I've finished another.

Last week I went on a road trip with five of my stitching pals for a fun day of shopping and lunch and girl talk.  Crafty Ewe in Broadview Heights, Ohio is our favorite shop and well worth the drive, so off we went.  I did some damage to my Stitch from Stash balance, but most of the things I bought were designs I had thought long and hard about and I only had a couple impulse buys. And if you know me, you will conclude that all of the things I bought were entirely predictable.

First of all, when your newlywed daughter is spending the summer in this:

Please don't ask and please don't laugh

You probably will buy these:

And maybe even be unable to stop yourself from starting it immediately!

If you've ever met any of my friends, near or far, you'd guess that I couldn't resist this.  They are all my treasures:

And the next two were impulse buys.  But really...when you're in the shop that's filled with gorgeous stitched models, you KNOW you're going to put an extra design in your basket.  This one, with Nat King Cole's famous lyrics, was absolutely going home with me.

And I'm a sucker for the sale bin.
 (Thank you, Mary-"You Should Buy That"-VanTyne) 

So .we had shopping, then lunch, then our traditional visit to an Michael-Angelo's Baker.  We mulled around and mulled around, and just before we were ready to leave, the baker came out with this utterly amazing cake:

Is that the most incredible cake ever, or what?  Its detail was amazing, it was entirely edible, and even more gorgeous in person.  I only wish we could have been there when it was presented to the person celebrating her birthday.  Don't you think she would have said what we all were thinking:  "I don't want to cut it!"

Now I'll leave you with a couple more wedding photos:

Getting ready

Dave, Colleen, me

Our son John and our future daughter-in-law, Stefie.

So many happy faces cheering while the new Miller Family is introduced for the first time!