Friday, September 30, 2011

The last day of September

Wow, September 30th sure got here in a hurry. I keep thinking it should still be summer, but here we are, four weeks into the school year already. This week has been busy for me, but today I am puttering around, putting out our autumn and Halloween decorations. I just hung a Halloween cross stitch on the wall, and the wall felt COLD! Summer really must be over.

The start of this school year has been a significant beginning in so many ways, being not just the start of school, but of a whole new era for our family. My son began high school (9th grade), and my daughter began middle school (6th grade). So many changes! I was expecting some drama, tension, and/or anxiety, but other than my daughter getting a little hyper when all her friends got their class schedules in the mail two days before she did, it's been a remarkably smooth transition for both of them. They both seem happy. Well, my daughter is happy. My son is not unhappy, and for him, being not unhappy about school is a good start!

They are both suddenly more self-sufficient. I am not needed for transportation, and since we are no longer enrolled in an elementary school, the demands on me as a school volunteer are much less demanding! It's been strange for me, but I haven't been as sad as I thought I would be. I am enjoying having a bit more freedom in my schedule, and I am taking advantage of it.

I did sign up to volunteer once a week in the school store at the high school. I cleared it with my son first, because the school store is right in the cafeteria, and not every high school boy wants his mom there at lunch time, but he said he didn't mind. Of course, he completely ignored me the first time I was there, and truthfully I am so busy the entire time that I couldn't spy on him if I wanted to! It's nice to still be volunteering for school, but in a whole new capacity than what I'm used to doing.

I also signed up for a Bollyfit class. I have always been a regular exerciser, but it's been over a decade since I had a group fitness class, so this was really stepping out of my comfort zone. We met for the first time this week. I haven't seen myself in a mirror during a workout in, um, maybe ever? YIKES! This body does not move like the instructor's body does! But that's okay, it still felt good and it was fun! A friend signed up with me, which makes it even better.

And finally, I have an unexpected opportunity to start doing some freelance proofreading. (If you are reading this, S, thanks again!) It's very low commitment, once a month, for a local publication that I've always enjoyed reading. I've never done anything like this, but writing/editing/proofreading/publishing are all things I've been interested in for a long, long time, so I am thrilled to have this opportunity!

So, so far, so good. Things feel new around here, but the newness feels good. And, of course, other things haven't changed, like the kids wanting home-baked goodies in their lunchboxes, and me needing to get dinner on the table at just the right time so we have time to eat it before evening activities begin, and the fact that the dishes don't do themselves, and that it always looks like a bomb went off after the kids get home, but nothing gets picked up unless a) I pick it up myself, or b) I nag someone else to do it. And, of course, laundry. Ugh, laundry.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Back from framers

I picked up the wedding sampler from the framer today, and thought I'd share the finished product.  I am really pleased with how it all came together.  I just wish I could get a better photo of it.  Once stitchery is under glass, it's difficult to photograph.  Also, I've been less than thrilled with the quality of my photos in blogger lately.  They look fuzzy and small.  I still can't figure out how to get the images to show up as large as they used to.

I am thinking of asking for a new camera for Christmas.  Either that or a piece of cookware from LeCreuset.  Which one would you want?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pumpkin Stitching

Here is a little seasonal cross stitch I worked up this past week.  I needed to destress after all the drama with the wedding sampler, so I chose something nice and straightforward, not to mention quick.  This is from the Harvest Littles chart by Hollis Designs.  The full design has four motifs (you can see it here), but the acorns and the squirrel are chock full of colonial knots, which do not fit my criteria of stress-free project!! So I chose to do just the pumpkins.  I stitched on 28 count linen (as opposed to 32 count that the pattern calls for, because I now know that 32 count fabric also does not fit my criteria for a stress-free project).  Using 28 count, this finished up to be small enough to fit into a frame with a 3-inch square opening.  Alas, I don't have a frame that size in my mini-frame stash, so I now have "3x3 frame" on my errand list!

I had big plans to work on all of my backlogged Christmas cross stitch patterns this year, but I ended up spending all of my cross stitch time on the wedding sampler.  I am realizing that NOW is the time to start on the Christmas stuff if I want to have it done for Christmas, but I have one more cross stitch to do before I will concentrate on tackling the Christmas patterns again.  I am really excited about this next cross stitch, and can't wait to stitch it and share it.

My craft focus has been pretty much limited to cross stitch lately.  I was getting overwhelmed by the chaos of running off in different crafting directions--sewing!  quilting! crochet! knitting! embroidery!  This was resulting in too many supplies, too many charts, too many books, and too much mess, with yarn here, fabric there, thread everywhere, and an overflowing unfinished project basket.  Right now I want things calm and orderly, so cross stitch it is!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Histoire d'Amour

My niece is getting married in October.  When she announced her engagement last Christmas, the first thing I did was search for a wedding sampler pattern.  I thought about embroidery, but I really wanted to do cross stitch.   I spent a lot of time--days, maybe even weeks--looking for just the right pattern.  When I discovered this one, Histoire d'Amour, by Marie Suarez, I knew it was the one.

Unfortunately, this pattern was almost my undoing.  It's stitched on 32 count, mostly over two threads but with some areas over one, and the pattern is very scattered.  So much spacing!  So much counting! Such teeny stitches!  Oh my goodness!  My eyes are not what they used to be!  I was squinting and swearing and sweating over this until I broke down and bought myself a pair of cheaters. Ahhh, much better.  (It caused quite an uproar in my home when they all discovered me stitching away with glasses perched on my nose.  Photos were taken.  They are not flattering.)
Alas, even with the cheaters, I found myself making little errors here and there.  It's hard to stitch perfectly with 32 count and a challenging pattern. I started to think of the chart as a mere suggestion for stitch placement.  There was a lot of adjusting on the fly as I stitched this!
After I took these photos, I re-stitched the letters r and e in "histoire" with a darker color. The thread is variegated, and after viewing the photos,  I decided I didn't like the light lettering.  I didn't take photos after the adjustment, so you'll just have to imagine it.
The original pattern had only first initials stitched into the hearts.  I chose to squeeze in their full names.  I also added the wedding date to the bottom of the design.

I also had to improvise on the tiny flowers scattered all over the design.  They are supposed to be done using the whipped spider web stitch.  I had never heard of that stitch before, let alone used it.  I researched how to make them, but I really struggled with making them consistently.  For every flower that I made well, I had five others that were twisted and snarly.  I spent one sleepless night fretting over how to fix this, and finally decided to snip them all out and restitch the flowers with a simple straight stitch coming from a center point, using two strands of light pink and one strand of dark pink. The flowers are not quite as sweet as the flowers in the sample photo, but it's much better to have consistently neat flowers than a big ugly mess!

my flowers:
flowers in the sample photo:
I started this back in February, but didn't give it my full attention until the middle of August when I realized time was ticking away.  I set myself the deadline of finishing it by the last day of summer vacation, which resulted in some looong days stitching (7 or 8 hours a day!), but I got it done, and now it is off being framed.  I love sending things off to be framed!  It should be back in plenty of time for the wedding.

(P.S. This new blogger interface is driving me nutso.  My photos are now appearing smaller than I would like them to, and I cannot figure out how to make them bigger!  Ugh, I hate it when updates complicate my life!!!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sept. 1 Yard--summer wanes

Not a lot to say about it.  It looks a lot like the August 1 yard, possibly even more neglected.  The trumpet vine in the second-to-last photo belongs to the neighbor behind me, but it grows over the fence and graces my yard with its beauty.

I need to spruce up the bed to the right of the front porch. Plants don't thrive there. I've lived here 17 years, so I know what I'm talking about.  Maybe I just need to do potted annuals and stop fretting over it.

I think the herb garden (the photo with the rain barrel) is unfortunately going to be dug up and regraded this fall.  Every time it rains even a tiny bit we get a puddle in that corner of the basement.  I can't even set up a sprinkler for 5 minutes at the very front of the bed without finding a puddle in the basement later, which  explains why a lot of plants in the herb garden look a little withered.

Blogger has presented itself with a new interface which I am using for the first time right now, and consequently I feel like I'm typing in a foreign language.   Or, I could feel that way because my face is completely numb after a trip to the dentist this morning.  I had crown prep done a few weeks ago, but I got a call saying I needed to come back in before they could make the permanent crown.  Silly me, I just assumed they had to redo the impressions, so I skipped innocently into the office today, but they actually had to grind away at my tooth again.  Normally I am not wimpy about dental work, but today the novocaine made everything in my head numb EXCEPT for my tooth!  OUCH!  She kept giving me more shots, and my tongue went numb, my lip went numb, my cheek went numb, even my ear lobe tingled, but every time she touched my tooth I wanted to shoot up out of the chair.  I felt like a dishrag when I left the office, and now I'm completely exhausted.  I have to go to a 2.5 hour school function tonight, and I'm afraid I'm going to be drooling all over the place and greeting people with a lopsided smile.