Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Shout-Out To My Home Girls!

The Gymnastics World Championships have just finished up, so my head is filled with ideas for new cross-stitch designs.  I'm also thinking forward toward the Rio Olympics and who will make up the USA Team. 
So I give a shout-out to these two lovely and talented ladies from my home state of New Jersey.  Now NJ is not known for producing world class gymnasts, but Jazmyn Foberg and Lauren Hernandez are both from MG Elite Gymnastics in Monmouth County.  Both have won numerous national and international medals,  Recently they have been taking turns winning competitions  all over the world.  They were just a bit too young to make this year's Worlds Team, but next year......
So here's to you Jazzy and Laurie.  You've done the Garden State proud!!


Friday, October 16, 2015

The Magic of Ordinary Days

There is certainly nothing ordinary about being at home every day, enjoying the sunshine and stitching and the company of my kitties. The evenings at home are especially nice, since almost all of mine are spent at gymnastics training.
There is no gymnastics practice this week.  The gym space is being relocated to a huge, revamped downstairs area (formerly indoor soccer arena).  All the equipment, mats, etc., were uprooted, cleaned and replaced in the new area.  To say it was a bit crazy is to put it mildly.  To say  that my boss can make a gigantic  "cluster f*ck" out of nearly any project she takes on is purely a statement of fact.  Yes, this could have gone way more smoothly then it has so far.  It also could have gone on without  unemploying six coaches for an entire week!
But what has become a financial hardship has been an emotional blessing.  If only I could sustain a living from this land, house and sewing machine.  As much as I love coaching gymnastics, I do so thoroughly enjoy being at home.
I've found a walnut tree (along with our numerous hickory trees) and dyed some fabric.
On another walk in our over-grown field I found what I think is Hops!  yes, it was green like the Internet photo(top) and is now the dried up version in the bottom photo.

There are also some grapes.  I have used the grape vines to make wreaths and frames, but this year we actually have some tiny fruits on the vines.  I have not taken the leap and tasted any yet.  They matured to a dark purple, but are only the size of peas.

Along with numerous indoor cleaning projects, I have been done some tidying of the barn and shed and some overall "winterizing"  The first frost is predicted for tonight and all the succulent and tropical plants are safely indoors.  Kitty Coal enjoys the cement casting form that Joe tossed out behind the shed.  Ok, Joe's idea of "cleaning" is a little different from mine....usually involving a large bonfire!

And finally, as a 51 year-old woman I flopped down in the golden grass and watched the clouds float buy.  I am sure this sense of peacefulness will vanish on Monday when things go back to the old ordinary.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Autumn Collection

Trying to spend a little less time on the computer and/phone, wandering around the Internet.  Although there are so many beautiful photos/ideas/patterns/recipes out there, I've found Facebook to be kind of depressing and even Pinterest is a bit mean-spirited lately.  It's far nicer to lurk around my favorite blogs and leave some nice comments.  It also makes me a bit jealous to see such nicely arranged and written blogs.  The photos and layouts are so enjoyable and professionally done.
I have managed to figure out how to change fonts and colors, but my photo arrangements are so dull.
To break the monotony in my stitching live I have signed on to another Stitch-a Long (SAL).  Yes, it does originate on Facebook of all places,  but it is a very nice stitchers group page.  No stalkers, gossips or haters.  The design is Kathy Barrick's "And Heaven and Nature Sing".  The kindness and generosity I have found there is amazing.  I signed up for the SAL only to discover that finances would not allow me to buy the chart or fabric to start the project and contribute to the group.  Then two lovely stitchers stepped up and gifted me the chart and fabric!!  Well, there goes my Evil Facebook theory.  Yes, there are some wonderful people out there.  My husband says it's good Karma returning to me.
About two months ago I received a rather strange letter.  I don't get much hand-written "snail mail" these days so the sight of the envelope intrigued me.  So did the return address.  This was not someone I knew and below the name was a long series of numbers  My husband said that the letter was from a prisoner.  This lady ( who I shall not name to protect her privacy) was requesting some cross-stitch patterns of certain themes...Autumn/Thanksgiving and Saint Olga of Kiev, She had enclosed $5 in cash. I let the letter sit for a few days, wondering who this person was and how she got my address. I must admit I was a bit suspicious and yes, judgmental of this mystery writer.
After a week or so of thinking and rethinking this issue, I went to Pinterest and some other websites, searched through my stash of charts and magazines and collected about 20 charts/designs.  I packed them up and mailed them to this person.
Since then I have received three more letters, each with a request for cross-stitch charts of various themes and odd amounts of cash (some of it from foreign countries!) to cover the cost of postage.  Each time I've done my searching and mailing, knowing someone on the other end was enjoying what I sent. So if this is some sort of "Good Karma" thing, then so be it.

The lovely Mel is enjoying the Good Karma of my lap on a cool Autumn day.  She pretty much ignores me all Summer long and then seeks me out as the weather changes.

The year-round Owl Tree was spruced up with a few new finds at Hobby Lobby.  I guess the whole owl thing has gone "viral" (oh yuck, hate that word) because there are quite a few new ornaments out this year.

Now I need to think about the outdoor décor.  It's about time to get some pumpkins and corn stalks to put around the vintage farm machine in our yard.  The weather is spectacular, even if my hands are a bit cold.  Enjoy whatever you have planned for the weekend and here's wishing you some Good Karma!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Oh My, That Dress!!

I love fashion!  This, my friends, should never be misinterpreted to mean that  I am at all fashionable.  My personal style could best be described as "Has-Been Over Weight Sporty Spice".  Interspersed with various attempts, on more formal occasions, to recreate Princess Diana's wardrobe from the early 80s
 I do have a great eye for fashion.  I can create outfits and pick out marvelous stuff for myself, only marred by the fact that I can neither afford nor fit into anything that slightly resembles modern day chic,
So I look to the past and to those with the "ideal figure", my fashion dolls.  Here is a selection of ideas/inspirations from various time periods.  My range of favorites begins around 1845 and goes until about 1925.  For some reason fashions before or after those dates has little appeal to me, the exception being the early 1810s and 1940s.






I submit for your review my list of


1.  Downton Abbey
2.  The Foresyte Saga
3. Lark Rise to Candleford
4.  Upstairs//Downstairs
5.  Howard's End
6.  Duchess of Duke Street
7.  Mr. Selfridge
8.  The Paradise
9.  House of Elliot
10.  An Ideal Husband
11.  Age of Innocence
12.  Enchanted April
13.  Out of Africa
14.  Sommersby
15.  Gone With The Wind
16.  Anna Karenina
17.  Anne of Green Gables
18.  The Piano
19.  Dr. Zhivago
20.  Little Women

I have only listed those that I have actually watched from beginning to end.  They are roughly in order of most favorite,/most detailed and accurate costumes.  This is all my personal opinion of course, and I would love to hear comments and suggestions from readers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First Day of Autumn

And so it comes, the First Day of Autumn.  Although the temperatures are still moderately warm, I see the leaves changing colors.  I dream of pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, chestnuts, and all things orange, rust and copper.
This past weekend was the Midwest Wool Festival.  I was able to get there this year, as last year was my mother's back injury and I was away in New Jersey.  I had budgeted a little bit of money to spend on some wonderful yarns, dyes and fibers.
I am still obsessed with making socks and I found this amazing red, white and blue blend to add to my stash.  The sock knitting has now taken over from the previous few weeks of doll clothes-stitching.  the cross-stitch?  Well, that has fallen by the wayside entirely.  I go in fits and starts with the crafting......bouncing from one style to another.  Last month is was all about quilting, a craft I had set aside last year.  Suddenly I was trolling the stores for grey and yellow print cottons for a new quilt ( not that there aren't at least FIVE unfinished quilting projects up in the attic room waiting for my attention). Then the quilting bug flew away and I was hot and heavy into doll clothes for the 18" dolls.  I made over a dozen new Fall/Winter outfits, then that mojo faded.
Bring on the Wool Festival and the knitting frenzy!  I finished a pair of socks for my Uncle Raymond while I was visiting my parents.  Then the brown pair in the collage below.....Etsy Marigold Jen "Orion".  The other half-finished pair in Jawoll "Color Aktion" in a nice ombre of rust, burgundy and plum.

Then come the days when I do NOTHING AT ALL.  Just sit in front of the TV mindlessly watching.  Maybe a sign of old-age, or perhaps ADD!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Going Home Again

Another trip to my mom and dad's house is gauged upon how much I can accomplish, and also how much I can get my mom to accomplish. Luckily she still finds some joy in knitting and crocheting. This time around I was also able to repair her sewing machine. This is quite a feat for me since even though I am creative, things to do with machines and fixing machines are not my strong point..

Such a joy to see my wonderful friend Pepper again. She has adjusted to their house so well. It took her almost 4 days to even notice I was there.

She is very attached to my dad now.  She follows him everywhere and does her selection of "tricks" for him.

My dad, at 84, is aging gracefully (in spite of this pose as a homeless man on the living room couch!).  My mother. at 80, has aged too rapidly in the past few years.  She has not been too severely affected by the progression of Parkinsons Disease, but more so by the side effects of the numerous medications she takes.  I think she could probably cut some of the meds in half and totally eliminate many of them.  Luckily the doctors seem to have finally come around to my "expert view" of medicine and cut down her blood regulating drugs.  This has improved things a bit.  I did notice some improvements in mood and energy level.  These high notes where interspersed with the now "usual" outbursts of anger and sadness all multiplied by 1,000!! 

The main accomplishment of this trip was to get my mother to go outside. She hasn't been outside for nearly a year, since her back injury last September.

Is it bad to say that I was a little bit happy to get back on the plane a week later and head home?

All in all things went well and I think I will be able to stay at my house and my job for a while longer.  I know I can be useful to them, but I wish I could just bring them more joy....

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

12 Years Ago

Twelve years ago today my beautiful Mocha and her lovely brother Midnight showed up on my porch. Unfortunately Middy is no longer with us, but Mocha has stayed my loyal friend.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sew What....

It's been so long since I last posted. Just when I thought that the months of June and July were a total loss in regards to stitching and crafting, I went back and reviewed the photos left on my camera. There seems to be quite a good selection here. A little bit of sewing. a little bit of cross stitch, a little bit of doll clothes.This all intermixed with my usual numerous photos of the cats.
But the lovely kitties will have to wait until next time.

First up is a christening gown that I made for  the neighbor's baby. She wanted something very masculine even though she had chosen to use a traditional gown. The main fabric is a men's shirting material of white cotton with a very thin white pinstripe in it. The cummerbund and the hem are satin.

I also cross-stitched a little Initial Pillow with the Christening date to display with the gown.
Next up is a long awaited doll dress. I've been looking at ideas and fiddling through fabrics and basically procrastinating for several months. I always get so many ideas for doll costumes off of BBC dramas. Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, The Paradise,  Poldark, Upstairs Downstairs, and my new favorite, The Crimson Field.

This is an 1860 Day Dress made of a light weight black cotton with white embroidery on it.  It has pagoda sleeves, lace gloves and a hoop under the skirt.
I found a super selection of black and gold fabrics at Wal-Mart, of all places. Black and gold is kind of an obsession with me. Those are my high school colors, and now they are my niece's high school colors.(She's the one on the right)
 She graduates next June and these fabrics will be made into some banners for her graduation party. The idea photo is from Pinterest. The lower photo is of the fabrics

Then there are the famous (infamous) brown satin chair covers! This project is for a parent of one of my gymnasts. She had four rather oddly shaped old kitchen chairs. She wanted them covered in her color scheme of choice. Little did I know that the fabric she would choose was a glittery brown satin. She realize that the bolt was rolled backwards and she actually wanted to use the inside part of the fabric, which was the part without the glitter. To make a long project short, 6 chairs later this assignment is finally done.

And now for the cross-stitch........Summer is usually a big time for cross-stitching, but the days (weeks, months!) have just slipped away.  I did get to an item that I have been thinking about/designing in my head for quite a while.  Mail Art!  I entered a mail art contest a few years ago and I loved the whole process.  Much like the doll dress project, I fiddled around for the longest time...consulting Pinterest, going through the fabric/thread/chart stash.  I chose Mon Ami Pierre motifs and some fabric I had dyed myself.  The thread was a clearance item at Hobby Lobby.
Eventually the envelope will go to my friend Martina in Germany.

  Now, what to fill it with.................
The project I am working on now is Moon Dance by Kathy Barrick.  I have an on-going love affair with peacocks and this design was an irresistible must-have.  It has spent a few months in the project bag but has made a reappearance.  The stitching is going quickly and I love the colors.  This one should be completed over the weekend. 

Speaking on weekends, I am looking forward to this one.  It seems that I have spent the last few months subbing for everyone else at work while they are away on vacation.  Last night infact, I was assigned to play not only myself, but the role of THREE other coaches.  If only there was THREE TIMES THE $$$ to go along with that...
As I near the 51 year mark I know I must modify my attitude, accept things as they come and  be less of a Negative Nancy.  I try to temper it all with a good sense of humor, but I know I've become down-right grouchy lately.  There is such joy to be had and I know I've spent too much time lamenting the past and agonizing over the future.
The peacocks await on this bright sunny day....................



Monday, May 18, 2015

A Walk In The Park

I try to take a little stroll every day. My sweet cat friends follow along. They walk with me like dogs! On rare ooccasions I can get ALL FIVE to hang out with me.  All have such unique personalities and there is usually some "clashing of views"

The older I get, the more I feel a closeness with Nature.  I appreciate these Spring days even more after such a cold Winter.  Everything is blooming and growing. The little veggie patch is in.  The sunflower and pumpkin seeds are scattered in random spots.  Two families of Barn Swallows have nested with us this year. One in the barn (of course) and one on the porch. They have taken over the abandoned Peewee nest from last year.
In my ongoing struggle with technology I am trying to "disconnect" a bit more,  In the past it was pen versus keyboard.  Now it is laptop versus phone.  Now matter how far technology advances and insists on making things "easier" for me, the more I find myself wanting to go backward.  The words and thoughts just don't seem to flow properly through the tiny light-up keyboard of my phone.  Even the laptop will never be as smooth as the pen, in my opinion.  As much as I would love to blog every day, I find myself returning more and more to my journal.  Yes, plain old paper and pen.
I should also be returning to some plain old needle and thread too!  There are half-finished projects scattered all over the place.  I just can't seem to settle on anything.
My American Girl doll clothes sale is running again this week at the gym.  I have a Christening gown to complete for my neighbor, and two friends from the gym want chairs recovered.  If only I could make a living with all this sewing!
Today is steamy and cloudy and full of mosquitoes.  A good day to pull out the "Idea Book"....my personal forerunner of Pinterest....and see what's next up in the world of cross-stitch, knitting and dolly fashions.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Visit

It seems like I have spent the month of April catching up, running in circles, starting things that are never finished and generally wasting time.  This always happens when one week out of the month is spent visiting my mother and father.  I was in New Jersey again 7-14 April.  It was one of the more pleasant trips in recent memory...on that new "sliding scale of  pleasantness" that I have had to create to maintain my sanity.  There was usual bickering between Mom and Dad as one refuses to yield even an inch to the others' maladies.
I plugged along in my usual way, attempting to ignore all of that and gauge my "success" by my daily accomplishments.  A lot did get done.  Windows cleaned, inside and out.  Curtains taken down and washed and put back up.  Mini blinds cleaned (and in some cases hidden away in order to prevent all windows from being sealed off like a morgue.)  I know it improves the overall mood of the house if it is more bright and open.  I can't imagine how they have not killed each other being cooped up in that house all Winter long!

The lovely Pepper has become even more friendly and at ease in her new home.  She loved the fact that I opened all the windows for her to observe the deer, squirrels, rabbits and various birds.  She has a very loud meow to begin with, but that chattering sound she makes at the wildlife is so interesting.  She has learned a few new "tricks" since Thanksgiving.
Jumping up on to the dining room table is her latest bit of entertainment.  She never mooches food or gets in your face.  She is just very curious and looking for attention (or to be the center of attention more likely)

She has also discovered the rocking chair in my brother's old room...mostly due to the fact that I finally cleared most surfaces of excess clothing, blankets, bags of yarn,, sheets, towels and whatever else was tossed there.  My father does his best to keep up with the housework, but things tend to end up in odd places.  Mom's Parkinson's Disease prevents her from doing cleaning, cooking, laundry etc.  All of the tasks a man in his 80's never did before and is not used to doing now.  But they plug along and do their best.  Luckily my brother lives close by.  He and my sister-in-law are a tremendous help to my parents.
Many a fine meal was cooked, much to my father's delight.  he is a man of few words, but he is always very complimentary of my culinary skills
There was even some delving into fields way beyond my talent or skill level.  Tiling is just such an adventure.  My goal was to replace 4 tiles that had fallen down.  They were gray and only one had survived. Home Depot only had black so I was behind the eight ball in terms of supplies as well as my lack of knowledge!  Well, 4 tiles turned into eight and 5 surrounding border pieces!!  The harder I tried to get the new tiles to stick, the more old ones fell off.  The original missing four were in a square, which would have led to a very inartistic arrangement of grey and black.  But thanks to the fact that some many others dislodged themselves during the process I was able to create a rather eye-pleasing mosaic,

When I spend a week in New Jersey it gives my brother and his family a week to escape.  And escape they did to do some university visits with my niece, followed by a short trip to Florida.  This gave me the chance to care for my old buddy Mel.  He is such a wild boy and I just love him!!

Pepper kept us entertained in the evenings.  And while I did help my mother finish 2 more knitting projects I didn't make a single cross-stitch, knit or purl myself!

So Spring has finally come.  By now this Magnolia in Mom and Dad's yard will be in full bloom.  I hope they've left those mini blinds off and the curtains open so they can see it.