Sunday, June 29, 2008

My First Exchange

My Workbasket "Quaker Animal" is on it's way to my exchange partner. This is my very first exchange and I'm a bit nervous. I've been checking out all the exchanges on the blogs that I follow and it looks like a lot of fun. I certainly did have fun stitching the animal....I should say animals. I couldn't decide which one to make so I ended up with three. The Quaker Cow done in Carrie's Creations red, white and blue variegated floss is about 75% complete. I voted him down right away because I thought he was a bit too bold for my first exchange. I didn't want to send anyone screaming from their mailbox when a crazy cow arrived. Then I made the Rooster. I really liked how he came out and I even finish-finished him. I think I have followed all the rules of exchanging correctly and that it is OK to post a photo of the finished rooster project since he wasn't chosen to be part of the exchange. I will also not reveal the name of my partner until I am sure the package has arrived to him/her. I added a few goodies too, following the inspirations that I have seen on other blogs. Can you guess I am having a little anxiety over this exchange? I actually did enjoy it very much. I love to buy gifts and this gave me a wonderful excuse to pick up a few little things and also finish a project in a set amount of time. I will certainly join another exchange when the opportunity comes around.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just A Bit More........

The link for tons of free crochet and knitting patterns is at Lily Sugar n' Cream. This is where I found the pattern for the crochet bags (called string bags on their website).

Tried to add some pet snaps earlier but they refused to upload. I'll try again here. This is sort of a "Where's Waldo?" of cats. Sammy up top, Alix underneath.

Going Green

At least I have come up with a politically correct excuse for being away from the blog so long. I've been spending most of my time outside, far away from the TV, computer and telephone. Just haven't been in the mood to sit here lately. I haven't made a single cross-stitch ( I mean not one single, individual stitch at all!) in over two weeks. I've become hooked (OK, pardon the pun) on an old hobby....crochet. I had nearly forgotten all the stitches and their coordinating abbreviations on the patterns, but when my mom and dad visited over the Father's Day weekend my mom helped me out quite a bit. She is an expert at both knitting and crochet and corrected the mistakes I made in what will now be known as the "prototype" bag. I've made 8 of these "green" grocery sacks so far and plan to sell them at the up-coming craft bazaars in the Fall. I have a red, white and blue one in the works right now. They are made from "Sugar & Cream" crochet cotton by Lily, although I have found a slightly cheaper WalMart version of this cotton also. The pattern is free on the Lily website. When I find the link I will post it here. The old cliche holds true "If I can do it, anyone can!" They really are quite simple and, no insult intended to the avid crocheters, rather mindless work. I can crochet away on these while watching TV in the evening or just sitting outside basically staring off into space. The "space" as it is, has been rather hot and hazy today. Bordering on oppressive, but not quite as there is a nice breeze blowing.
We've gone a bit "green" in our back field also. It is over 2 acres and has sat dormant, except for the rampant weeds for over 20 years. This year we leased out 3/4 of it to a local farmer to plant soybeans. The 1/4 closest to the house contains our septic system leach lines. Although this would make fine fertilizer I did not want the tilling and plowing to disrupt all of last Spring's expensive and time-consuming work to re-route the septic system.

My other green projects have been hand-sewn dresses for the "Jane Austen" doll I showed in a previous post. She is really a Madame Alexander doll called "Articulated Alex" but she makes a wonderful Jane. Here she is sporting a somewhat more modern outfit, an 1900 Visiting Costume. This I will also call a prototype since it is riddle with mistakes in sizing. I bought 4 wonderful patterns off of eBay for my Alex and Tyler 16" dolls, but they always need a bit of tweaking before they fit right. There is a big gap in the closing of the skirt back and the sleeves of the black underblouse are too tight. I simply chopped them off to fit under the jacket. But since the jacket sleeves are too long it's not noticeable.
So 4 measly posts for the month of June. I thought I would do better then that. I still have the weekend to catch up a bit. There is a wonderful arts and crafts festival in town on Saturday so I may have some nice photos from that to post. I am still reading all of your blogs and trying to catch up with my comment-making.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

To all the dads and pet-dads, Happy Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Moving Too Slowly

Every day I sit at this computer and everyday I vow to update this blog. The dread of the slow dial-up connection and waiting literally hours for photos to upload turns me off and I move on to something else. Well, today I am going on my second hour of Internet browsing and viewing my favorite blogs. I even made the sinful mistake of purchasing four new doll clothes patterns from eBay. Since I survived the first night back at the gym after our break (23 May-8 June) I felt a need to "reward" myself. I suppose it is better then eating chocolate as a reward, but a bit more expensive. I managed to finish some more little projects in the crafty/household category during the break. I even walked with Bud 2 miles every day and feel a bit more fit (if not trim). I also managed to secure my job back with the Level 5 group.

At Home With Jane Austen By Tanja Marie Anderson

Pictured with my own little version of Jane.

Barbara Ana Design Make A Wish and the perfect cording I found to go with it.

Crochet mesh bag. A variation of a pattern from Sugar n' Cream

As usual I dreaded going back after a nice long, peaceful break. I love so much being at home, but this doesn't make me any money. It had been totally up in the air as to whether I would coach the Level 5 group again now that it is quite large or was I still "out". I was going to just let it ride until Monday. At last check,12 May, which was the last time I had a serious talk with my boss, she was not sure she wanted me back at Level 5 even though the group was now expanded to 17 girls. Infact my friend Brenda had told me that the boss called Lyla, the Level 8/9, coach to see if she should "help" with the 5 group instead since there were so few Level 8/9 girls left. What is this "help"? I don't know what that even meant! So was it now Jill and Lyla at Level 5 and I' m still out? Or do we need three coaches for that group? I was so afraid to ask. When I confronted the boss about the increased number of Level 5s on 12 May she said that she felt Jill and I did not work well together and that she would have to meet with us to discuss it. All this means is that Jill has been talking badly about me and wants to keep the group to herself. I did not want any meeting. I have coached there for over 7 years now and the boss always gives me good reviews. Then suddenly since about late September things are bad because of the division between me and Jill. That is all it really is. I do not want a meeting because again Jill will use this as a opportunity to take advantage of my shyness and "cooperation" as I buckle under to all she says. She knows I am not good in these situations and she is a very loud, bold talker and will dominate the meeting and make me look like a feeble little fool (AGAIN!)
Surprise, surprise! I guess I am working with the 5s again! It all came out in the usual back-handed way. About 5pm last Friday Sherry, the boss's assistant in the office, called me to tell me my junior group was running on Tuesday and Thursday, but their weren't enough kids for me to stay and teach Level 1 or Level 2. So she says "I guess you just have those hours and your stuff with Team". Sherry doesn't know anything about the Team stuff (except all the crap that I tell her). She could tell I was pissed off because I was kind of short with her and not joking around like I usually do. I asked to talk to Peggy, my boss. I don't know what ever possessed me to do that. I didn't have any index cards prepared on what exactly to say or any sharp and snappy responses to any of the trash she would say to me. Luckily she wasn't in the office so I asked Sherry to leave her a message simply stating "What hours do you want me to be there for Team starting Monday?" names mentioned, no Levels mentioned etc. Peggy called me back in about ten minutes and was in a real laughy/chatty mood. She said she needed me to stay until 9pm with the 5s and then went right into rambling on about who will be at what Level and how many kids we had on Team now. Then I helped her update her roster ( 20 minutes!!) since she really has no idea what kids are where or who has really quit (she confused Morgan, a Level 6 who is staying with Shelby, a Level 7 who has quit!!). The conversation went on it's merry way with no mention of Jill or any of the insults or injuries incurred from that situation! I think she's on drugs...I really do. With all those people helping her in the office and the stacks and stacks of paperwork she keeps on all the kids and Team in general, she really has very little idea of what is actually going on. She told me we had 42 girls on Team until I "found" four more that she had forgotten. I couldn't wait to see what s**t Jill would stir up on Monday night, since she obviously "thinks we don't work well together" Well, nearly 24 hours has passed and all the wheels kept on rolling and the gym continued to run smoothly, according to Peggy who is still completely blind to everything that has gone on since September. Jill tossed me some terrible attitude. Pretty much the pre-teen "whatever" sort of thing every time I asked her opinion on the rotations, number of kids in the group, how will we divide them up, what skills we should focus on. She was really playing it up. I think she was bating me into being "bossy and possessive"....she had accused me of that before and that was her main reason for getting me dumped from the Level 5 group in January. I forced myself to be "Little Miss Sunshine" the entire evening. Everything was marvelous with the kids. Both my Level 4 and Level 5 groups worked very hard and I didn't have any problems. I am in such a pickle over what I should do about Jill's behaviour. Obviously she knows I just "let it slide" all of last season and she got exactly what she wanted. If I go to the boss about last night's little performance then I am the trouble-maker and the tattletale. OK, this is starting to sound so grammar school.
I only get in three days this week as I have found a sub for Thursday so I can be at home with my parents who will be visiting from New Jersey. We are off on Fridays in the Summer anyway. My mom and dad are coming on Thursday (12th) and staying through Father's Day. My dad prefers to spend Father's Day here away from my sister-in-law and all her overblown celebrations and her rather over bearing parents. She attempts these Martha Stewart-like extravaganzas that never seem to come out the way she planned. I think it's because she has been estranged from her own parents for several years. They are barely on speaking terms yet she continues to go through each holiday like an MGM movie production of the 1940's. Makes me think twice about complaining about the relationship I have with my parents.

Animals are all doing well, although the oppressive heat of the past few days is bothering them a bit. Alix has been doing quite well for over three weeks. No "attacks" of any kind and she seems to have a better appetite. A huge THANK YOU to the lovely Harmien who has told me about a powdered medicine given to older cats with kidney failure. It helps release the phosphates in their food so they get more nutrition out of what they eat. I talked to my Vet about it but it involves a blood test for Alix and I'm not sure I want to stress her out by dragging her to the vet for this. I know, it sounds like I am a terrible pet owner. I wish the Vet could come here to do the test. Even then, Alix is so freaked out by strangers. She seems quite happy now and I'm not sure if her past seizures would be effected by this medication. Harmien's cat, Gabber, is 21!
Hmm, the clouds are rolling in. Actually the shade is a nice break. It is 77 degrees F, rather then 93 as it was the past three days. Don't know if I can get in my walk with Bud before the downpour. Maybe a bit of sewing while these photos upload. Whew, did I throw enough information at you for one post?!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Funky Snail

No, this doesn't involve an unsavory dining experience. It's about this little guy. He's a variation of Prairie Schooler #54 Garden Beasties. I used DMC Color Variations #4190 and regular DMC 150 and 721. I was a bit nervous about messing with a sacred PS pattern. I have never varied one of them before because they are so perfect the way they are. I really do like how this little guy turned out. I did eventually paint the bottom of the papier-mache box a bright lime green to match the hand-dyed linen. I might try the spotted frog next in some wild color combination.
A few other stitchy finishes to show including the patriotic stars I discussed in a previous post. As for the tutorial requested on how to finish a star shape, here is my advice. DON'T DO IT! Just stick to squares or circles. Actually I did take some photos of the WIP and I will write a little tutorial in a future post, but for now I am just recovering from the torture of making these darn things. The man standing between the two stars is Uncle Sam of course. He is from Needl' Love booklet #23 "Holiday Friends". There is Miss Liberty who goes along with him and hopefully she will be finished later today. If these awful rain storms continue as they have for the past 18 hours or so I will get a lot of "indoor time" to work on some stitching and finishing. This all hinges on the hopes that the electric will stay on while it's storming.
I spent the mandatory 2 hours on-line this morning that it takes me to read and comment on all my favorite blogs. Then a big crash and a big flash and the power went out. Just for a minute or two but long enough to zap the computer before I had a chance to make a new post here.

On Monday Joe had a day off so we did a little local tour. Our goal was to make it the 35 miles southwest to the closest Red Lobster restaurant, but a huge accident on the hi-way underpass and the ensuing traffic jam surrounding it put an abrupt end to that. Since it was only 4pm we decided to drive around to the cemetery where his paternal grandparents are buried. The cemetery has a very old section that I love to visit. The early 19th Century monuments are so beautifully carved and remind me of Georgian Era samplers. The weeping willows, lambs, doves etc.....and the verses are perfect to translate into needlework.

To the Memory of
Martha H. Campbell
Who departed this Life
April 10th 1830
Aged 19 years
3 months
2 days
Dearest Sister thou hast left us
Here thy loss we deeply feel.
But ‘tis God that doth bereft us
He can all our sorrows heal

To the Memory of
Margaret Elizabeth
Daughter of
David C. & Margaret Williamson
Who departed this life
Dec. 5 1838
Aged 3 years 10 months 24 days

When carried by angels above
Your happy young spirit shall rest
In regions of pleasure and love
Forever to dwell with the blest.

Well, the clouds are rolling in again. I better get the photos uploading here before the storm starts.