Thursday, August 21, 2008

So Much to Show.....

The days of my mini break from the gym have gone by in a flash...or should I say splash. Inspired by the 41 year-old swimmer Dara Torres at the Olympics, I've taken up swimming, again. I love to swim. I used to be in the water 4 to 5 hours a day as a child. Either in the community pool or the Atlantic Ocean, depending on where we were on any given day over the Summer holidays. Well, I am back at it. I now go every morning over to the gym and swim laps. No, there will absolutely not be any photos of this. I am still surprised that they haven't kicked me out for displacing too much water already! I haven't been in a pool, much less a swimsuit in at least 5 years. As with every new adventure I was a bit nervous. I am not much of a "joiner" so it's a bit tough for me to get out there and do stuff when it involves public places and strange people. The first day (Monday) it was 2 elderly ladies, one elderly man, two very fit swim team girls and me. Yesterday and today it was only me, so apparently the site of me in a swim suit has scared all the others away. I do my little breast stroke thing with my head up out of the water and a full-fledged back stroke, which was my favorite racing stroke as a kid. The technique is still there, but I need to work on the speed! I last about 20-25 minutes or about 15 laps. I go early in the morning, between 7:30 and 8:30am and then I am showered, dressed and back home around 9am. It's a great start to the day and I'm now totally addicted. I don't know what I'll do when I go back to the regular evening gym schedule. I really can't afford to make two trips a day other there. I missed swimming on Tuesday because I went to the Newport Aquarium with my mother-in-law, Joe's sister and three of her 4 kids. It was really nice to have a family day out and my mother-in-law was kind enough to pay for everything, including our lunch! I love zoos and aquariums (museums and botanical gardens too). I am such a tourist! My favorite parts were the seahorse tank, the otter tank( I could have stood there for hours watching those little guys) and the walk-through tropical bird area. Little did I know that my sister-in-law is a "birdophobe". She is absolutely terrified of birds flying near her or (God forbid!) landing on her. My niece fed the beautiful tropical birds from a little cup of nectar that could be purchased for 50 cents. My sister-in-law cowered in the corner for a few minutes and then made a quick exit. Overall it was very fun day. This aquarium is only about a 40 minute drive south of here, but I would never have gone on my own. Hopefully I will get to the zoo again soon.

On the stitching front I am bouncing around between several different project, none worthy of a photo yet. I did make this primitive Halloween display. The pattern is in one of my favorite series of books by Needl'Love Company. The books are a bit pricey, but worth every penny. They are filled with felt-work designs, rug hooking, quilting, applique and a bit of cross stitch. I found a good selection of them on-line. I am always searching eBay to get a good deal on these. So far I have "Haunted Threads", "Spooky Threads", and "Autumn Threads". I would love to get a few of the Christmas-themed books.

A beautiful gift arrived from Barbara over the weekend. A late birthday surprise. These are the best because then it feels like my birthday celebration goes on forever. Don't you just love Prim Kitty sitting here with Alix. Alix bonded with her immediately. It might have something to do with the natural wool filling of Prim Kitty. She is stitched on a lovely hand-dyed linen of a tea color with a soft red wool nose and real button eyes. The backing fabric is shades of brown printed with smiling cat faces! Also in the package was a beautiful card, an amazing French cross-stitch magazine, and a bundle of DMC white floss for me to dye. Thank you so much Barbara, you really made my day...and Alix's too.

Time to get rolling on the gymnastics cross-stitches for the Fall. The Olympic competitions in Artistic Gymnastics is over. I am very satisfied with the results. Sad that the Olympics are coming to an end though. it was a joy to watch, for a change. Usually I am very stressed and tend to disagree with the results. But this time I think everyone was placed where they should be, even though I still struggle to work with the new scoring system. From what I saw of the other events there have been many records broken and very little controversy surrounding various victories. I am also impressed with the overall good sportsmanship I have seen, especially from the host Chinese athletes. The scenes of Beijing and the nearby country side are amazing. Now I have to take all these ideas and motivation and convert them into cross-stitch.

I will savor the few remaining days of my break and try to get as much accomplished as possible without spending too much money in the process. I have resisted trips to my favorite needlework shops and have instead searched through my massive piles of supplies. If I do this once or twice a year it is almost like "buying" new stuff just through re-discovering what I already have.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Put On Your Big Girl Leotard And Let The Games Begin!

Can hardly tear myself away from the Olympics on TV and on the Internet. Although the US network NBC TV is being rather stingy with letting viewers access live coverage on-line, it doesn't bother me too much. My dial-up connection is so painfully slow it would take forever to view the tiniest little clip. I was able to find some nice photos at Getty Images of all the new gymnastics stars and their lovely new leotards. it is of the utmost importance that I stay on top of this sort of stuff...not only for my job but in order to design new cross stitch pictures. Here are a few very lovely ones that have inspired me. Let the designing begin! Jade Barbosa Brazil

Anna Pavlova Russia

Shawn Johnson USA

Lauren Mitchell Australia

Thank you to Heidi, who seems to be the only responder to my "Pay It Forward". I know everyone must be very busy this time of year making gifts and doing exchanges, but I thought I would give the PIF a try. Heidi, please e-mail me your snail mail address I too have been pretty busy 'crafting it up' trying to get enough items ready for the craft bazaars this Autumn. Here's the nearly finished gymnast design of Ana Porgras of Romania. Need to add some back stitching to bring out the details and she also needs her balance beam to land on! Lots of ornies in the making and tons of doll clothes too. I spent 4 hours outside yesterday with the sewing machine. The weather has been absolutely amazing......more like late September the mid August. here's "Stash Part II", the Heatherfield fabrics I ordered. Hickory 16, Chili Pepper 16 and Starlight 16. A gentle breeze and 73 degrees F. Even the pets seem to want to sit in the sun these days, rather then hiding from it. Here I am with the whole gang. Elliot on my lap, Coal down front on the cushion, Alix on the table and Sammy in the chair. Coal's been up to his usual, and by "up" I really do mean up! It seems that if no one has the courtesy to get up in the middle of the night to let him in the kitchen door, he tries the next best thing...the bedroom window.

Oh my, there went another 90 minutes on the computer.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

PIF from Leena!

My computer has been behaving so badly lately that I have limited my time on-line and therefore have not gone to all my favorite blogs, read posts and left comments. I went to visit Leena today and to my surprise I have been chosen as part of her PIF. To be quite honest I left a comment on her blog because I had no idea what a PIF was!! It ended up I was one of the first three commenters and now I am included in the PIF exchange. Once again wonderful Edgar came to my rescue and explained it all to me so he will be the first one to get a stitched gift from me. This will be totally free of any PIF obligations, just a "thank you" for being so helpful.
So here goes...............
* I promise to stitch something for the first three persons who leave a comment to this post.
* You'll receive a stitched gift in 12 months, hopefully sooner :)
* You have to blog this as well and continue sharing
Wish me luck!

New Stash-Part One

The first group of items I so selfishly bought on-line has arrived. The first two threads are from the Etsy shop of Desert Sky. Aren't they lovely and so unique. For some reason I am drawn to the more dramatic hand-dyed flosses, rather then the more muted colors. So far I have acquired quite a few of these wild colors from various companies and have yet to use them. All of my charts call for DMCs or soft, traditional colors. A split personality thing going on! The second group is a selection of Valdani threads and Threadworx threads. Both of these companies are relatively new (to me anyway). I have never had Valdani threads before and Threadworx are the replacements for the old Needle Necessities I loved so much. Valdani is 10 yards each and the Threadworx are a whopping 20 yards each. I got them for a great price at Anita's website. Anita has a very small on-line shop with a limited selection of threads. She more then makes up for this with her friendly and helpful e-mails, her great prices and her superbly low shipping fees. She also designs her own patterns, go have a look-see.

Waiting for the fabrics to arrive, hopefully this weekend. The weather has improved greatly. We had a nice amount of rain a few days ago that relieved the mini drought in my garden. It also spared me from dragging the linked up garden hoses all over the place. Now the humidity is gone and it is a very comfortable 78 degrees F. Can't beat that for stitching outside on the patio. The sewing machine will make it's trip out there on Friday to complete some more doll clothes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Better Late Then Never

Yes, at last an update. I know all of you have been just hanging out in front of your computers waiting for the fabulously riveting news that flows from these fingers on to the keyboard. I turn on this machine with the best of intentions of updating every day, or at least to view and comment on other blogs, but no such luck. I have had some e-mail and Internet issues lately; some work-related issues; vacation issues, some financial issues........basically just a bunch of issues that have kept me either away from or too aggravated at the computer to sit here long enough to update. There is even a minor "stalking" incident that prevents me from being as open and honest as I wish to be here...but maybe that is a good thing.
Went to the sidewalk sales of historic Lebanon a few weekends ago. Came back with a some little gifties for Christmas and this selection of vintage patterns for myself. The main drag of Lebanon is geared toward the antiquing/tourist crowd and the prices in the shops are outrageous. Even though I am "in town" every day to go to the gym I never shop there. It was nice to spend a Saturday morning browsing around looking at all the beautiful items. I came away with some nice stuff and only spent about $20. The next day we found yard sale and I got this interesting box. The needlepoint bird looks pretty old. I really like him though. The piece can slide out the top of the framed section so I can refinish the box and put my own work in there. Mr. Birdie may end up in a nice frame instead. At the same yard sale I picked up two packages of dressmakers transfer paper, two zippers and a small piece of silk fabric, all for the grand total of $3.00. Like they say "One man's trash is another man's treasure".
Have totally fallen off the wagon with my New Year's Resolution. Are we even allowed to talk about those by the time August rolls around? I did make it through the 6 months of no stitchy/crafty/sewing stash buying. By the end of July with a little birthday cash burning a whole in my checkbook I went wild on-line. Some hand dyed threads from Etsy, some Valdani threads, some Threadworx threads and some Heatherfield fabric.....which is on sale at Laurel's Stitchery as I write. I just love Laurel's on-line shop. I am generally not a very picky on-line shopper, but I have become a little more aware of shipping rates lately. Laurel's is $2.00 regardless of how much you buy ($8 airmail overseas). Her selection is good, her prices are reasonable and her shipping is fast. I have found other on-line shops with a bigger selection but their prices are higher, shipping rates outrageous and they are incredibly slow to ship. So there is my little advertisement for the day.
On the stitching front, I've been working on some ornaments and little UFO projects. No pics right now because I am still in the heat of the moment and rushed to get things done. I have committed myself ( should I just stop there!?) to 4 craft bazaars: September 27, October ??, November 8, and December 13. These also involve a massive amount of doll clothes. The sewing machine will be burning up these next few weeks. My wacky Halloween chef did get finished though. Some "blood" stains here, a few burn holes there and...............

Alix continues to live a rather happy and healthy life, along with her friends, Sammy, Coal, Elliot, Mocha, Bud the dog and Twinsy the neighbor cat. The other day the whole gang was all together in the yard, but I missed the photo op. Speaking of photos ops...A little fire alarm at the gym (no actual fire, just some dust from construction) gave me a chance to snap the group outside in the sunshine.
I hope to write here more often if I can become more "Blogger Girl" and less "Issue Girl".