Friday, April 18, 2014

Stitching, all sorts

My stitching lately has not followed any theme.  I've been attracted to a variety of designs.

This pattern, a quotation from Pride and Prejudice, is from The Sampler Girl on Etsy.  I plan to get this framed and hang it near my book shelves.




I recently watched the movie Austenland.  I read the first two books in the series and don't plan to read any more, because I find the whole premise so silly, but I didn't hate the books enough to avoid the movie.  Austenland is a vacation estate in England where women spend two weeks dressed in Regency costume, living the Regency life.  Actors play the Darcy/Wickham/Bingley characters to woo the women visitors.  Much as I love reading books set in the regency period, I would find such a set up uncomfortable in the extreme.  I can't imagine enjoying actors trying to woo me!  Ick.  In the movie version of Austenland, Jane, our American heroine, goes to Austenland, and during her two weeks makes some revelations about herself and realizes she's been trying to live in a fantasy world.  In the airport on the way home, she stands up on her suitcase and shouts out "Do you hear me, England?  I am OVER IT!"  That scene cracked me up.  It does seem like England gets romanticized by those of us who love PBS and BBC and Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and we have to remember that the England of those stories simply does not exist in real life.


This next little stitch, seasonally appropriate (yay!), is a free pattern from Snowflower Diaries.  She has many adorable patterns available for free on her blog, each one sweeter than the next.
 I used threads I had in my stash instead of the recommended ones: Weeks Dye Works in teal frost, kudzu, sweetheart rose, and chestnut, and Gentle Art Sampler Threads in raspberry parfait.

I finished this off into a little pillow with rickrack in the seam, and it turned out awful!!  The rickrack slipped, so it's uneven all the way around (almost disappearing in some places), but it would ruin the whole thing to pick it apart and refinish, so I'm going to call it "charmingly handmade" and try not to fret.  I do so envy people who have good finishing skills!  My lack of ability to finish is why I frame almost all of my cross stitch.

And finally, for my daughter's birthday, Sherlock and Watson:

 Pattern from the amazing Weelittlestitches.  I have noticed some copycat designers on Etsy, but I refuse to buy from anyone but the original.

My daughter is such a Sherlock, Dr. Who, and Harry Potter geek.  She has her own fantasy version of England in her mind, I think.  A year from now she will be going overseas with her school orchestra.  The destination is not determined yet, but it will be either Dublin, London, or Rome.  She is voting for London because she is the most familiar with it culturally.  Pop culturally, of course!  She knows nothing about Dublin, and not much more about Rome.  I do hope they go to London, because the awesomeness of Rome or Dublin would be completely lost on her at this age, whereas London would be a thrill a minute for her.

And, in the hopes that she does go to London, my current cross stitch project is this. It's going to take FOREVER to stitch!




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Bunny


My mom made this ceramic Easter Bunny in 1971.  It always bothered her that the egg cracked in the kiln, but I think the crack gives the egg some style!

I mentioned this bunny in this post last November, but didn't have a photo of it yet.  Now I do.

I've been annoyed for a very long time over how tiny my photos are in blogger.  I noticed that other blogger blogs don't seem to have this same issue, so I finally decided to play around with my template, and I may have had some success.  Hopefully this new layout will be visible on your screen. Let me know if the photo is cut off on the sides.  If everything seems to be working, I may retrofit some photos on old posts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Wisconsin

Things are finally thawing here and the snow is actually gone!  My children were on spring break last week, and after a brutal winter with too many days spent hiding from the weather, we took advantage of the improving conditions to get out and do a few things.  My son wanted to do a college visit at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, so off we went.

What a gorgeous campus!  Madison is on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona.  The Memorial Student Union sits right on the shores of Lake Mendota.  


 One disadvantage of these college visits is that now I want to go to school all over again.  What would I major in this time?  What would I do differently?  I don't think any teenager can fully grasp what an exciting time of their lives this is, and how fleeting it is.

Madison is also the capital of Wisconsin, and the state capitol building is within walking distance of campus.




After a day in Madison, we headed to Milwaukee, which we'd never visited before.  We found the Bronze Fonz!
 And enjoyed the sites along the Riverwalk:
 We stopped at an old-fashioned burger joint for lunch and I was amused by the line of cow statues in the parking lot.  Wisconsin really embraces its agricultural side!
 We found my beloved Lake Michigan.  Very odd to be on the "wrong" side of it!
 More scenes from downtown Milwaukee and the water front.


I hope to be back on the blog soon with some finished stitched pieces to show, as soon as I can get some good photographs of them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Frozen

Winter is not releasing its grip on us this year.  We still have knee-deep snow on the ground, and temperatures have only just begun to creep up over the freezing mark.  I've been doing a picture-a-day for Flickr, and it's depressing to see I'm at photo 67 and all my outdoor photos are STILL of snow snow snow. That is 67 straight days of relentless winter, people!

Fortunately it's been very sunny, but there are no signs of blooming or growth, and the rabbits have eaten my favorite shrubs down to little sticks.  All the vegetation has been buried under snow for months now, so I'm sure those bunnies are hungry, but dang--did they have to eat my shrubs?

I've felt so blah this winter.  I follow some of my favorite places in Michigan on various social media platforms, and I've been reading about ice caves on the lake shore, and how the Great Lakes are almost completely frozen over for the first time in 30 years, and worse, I've been reading about how great the snow conditions are for skiing and snowshoeing, but I haven't gone to enjoy any of it.  None of it.  I've been hunkered down in my house, feeling fatter and bleaker by the day.

It's just been too hard to get around to go see these things. Every weekend seemed like it brought another snowstorm.  We still can't walk and drive easily around town because the sidewalks are treacherous--too much snow fell for everyone to keep things cleared.  And all of the streets are narrower from snow banks, and now there are huge potholes everywhere.

Sigh.

On the happy side, I have cheered myself up with some cross stitch.

This first one is the sisters from the movie Frozen, pattern by Weelittlestitches.  I absolutely ADORE Anna's colorful, embroidered clothes!  Much more so than the Ice Queen's shimmery gown.

And here is my WIP:


Recognize the quotation?  The pattern is from Sampler Girl.

Speaking of Jane Austen quotations, I chuckle to myself over my complaints of the weather and the state of the roads.  There is a subtle joke in the Emma Thompson movie version of Sense and Sensibility where the mother admonishes her youngest daughter to restrict her remarks to the weather and the state of the roads.  This is what it's come to for me, too!

Even if I've been stuck at home, some people have ventured out to see some of the beauty this winter has created.  I was particularly interested reading about this somewhat foolhardy adventure in Sleeping Bear Dunes where four men walked across frozen Lake Michigan to North Manitou Island.  They went about it smartly, but I'm glad it wasn't my husband who had such a notion!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Food and Weather


I made Quinoa Harvest Chili a few days ago, and it is delicious!  I snapped the photo above when I ate leftovers for lunch today, and didn't realize the picture was blurry until it was too late to take another.  If you squint, you can't tell it's blurry, but all that yummy wholesomeness should still be obvious.

My children are home from school this week, not due to weather, but because for some mysterious reason our school has this week off (this, in addition to Spring Break in April).  I don't know why we didn't go see my parents in Florida this week.  There must have been some reason we didn't think we could go this year, but that reason is eluding me now as I look out on more of this:

Thundersnow!  That means it thundered while it snowed.  Even the weather is getting cranky with itself these days and doesn't know how to behave properly any more.  Yesterday was gorgeous (by my Polar Vortex-induced standards).  The sun was shining, the temperature was above freezing for only the third time since December, and all of the icicles fell off the house.  I went outside and chipped away at the two inches of ice that's been covering our walk and driveway for far too long.  I'd chip away a little bit, let the sun work on it for a few minutes, then chip away some more.  It was tough physical labor, but I was so happy to get that sidewalk completely cleared for the first time in months.  Then today we had thundersnow, followed by sleeting rain, and now the walkway looks like this again:

You can see how deep it is by the mail carrier's footprints.  The driveway looks worse.  I am officially giving up.

My kids are content to stay home all day long when they have a school break.  My daughter has been watching lots of Olympics.  Today I thought we'd try a new recipe from an old cookbook, and we made these S'more Buns from my bread machine cookbook.
A near disaster--all the filling oozed out while they baked.  Fortunately only a little bit leaked onto the oven floor.  Sigh.  My daughter watched while I took the photo and said "Hashtag bakingdisaster!"  I'm not sure if any of this (the weather, the kids home on break, the oozing buns, the new crazy language that should sound foreign but doesn't) makes me want to laugh or cry.

To round out my sad stories, last week was extremely busy, and we had to be somewhere every single evening by 6:30 p.m.  That makes dinnertime a stressful and rushed affair, so on Thursday I told everyone we would be ordering our dinner from a restaurant and my husband would pick it up on his way home from work.  We NEVER do this.  I cook our dinner 29 days out of 30.  I was very much enjoying the stress-free afternoon and looking forward to my no-effort restaurant meal.  I placed our order online, my husband picked up the food, and I was feeling pretty pleased with things, but as we passed around the meals, we realized that the food I had ordered had not been included.  The restaurant had accidentally substituted a different meal, a meal with ingredients that were revolting to me and that I had absolutely no desire to eat.  Is there supposed to be a lesson in there somewhere?  I was glad it was mine and not one of the kids', but at the same time, AAAGGGHHH!

(I share all of this knowing full well none of these are really problems, and that there are so many worse things that could happen.  In the grand scheme of things, I have absolutely nothing to complain about!  But still, it does feel like it's been one annoyance after another lately.)




Monday, February 17, 2014

Pocket Hat

A few months ago I saw a picture on Instagram of a little girl wearing a hat with a pocket, and in the pocket was a little bear.  I love toys in pockets, especially in unexpected pockets (evidence here and here), and after seeing that hat, I had to figure out how to make one for my great-niece.  Etsy to the rescue!  I found this darling pattern here.  



I made the bear out of felt (tracing a photo I found in a book for a template), and secured him to the inside of the pocket with a two-strand crochet chain.  I made the chain too short to be a strangulation hazard, but long enough that the bear can come out and play.

I wish I had made something like this for my kids when they were little!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Freezing Fog

It's a very sparkly morning.