Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I am so glad to be done with this small yet frustrating design! It is "As Brother and Sister" by Marie Barber from JCS. I have only 14 blocks left before this blanket is done, and I cannot wait. Each design is stitched on 18ct Anne Cloth afghan fabric over 1. That isn't so bad until you have a design with a ton of fractional stitches - like this one. Also a lot of unnecessary color changes if you ask me. I changed the design a bit by making the pants on the little boy all one shade of red, as well as his stockings, hair, and shoes all one shade. I was just too annoyed with it to do four shades within such a small area. The overall appearance maybe would have been better as designed, but I'm happy with it as it is and you know what? It's done! Now onto Alhambra Garden for a few days until the Chatelaine Sampler Mystery II starts up on Jan. 1.

In other news, I have another interview tomorrow at a different staffing agency. At least I know what I'm going into this time - I'm not really interviewing for a specific job, just hoping they like me and my resume enough to get me a placement somewhere. In the meantime I've also sent out about 5 more resumes over Christmas. It's so frustrating to just sit and listen to the phone not ring all day. UGH.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Emma's Garden

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. :) I sure did. My family got together on Christmas Eve and surprisingly there was no drama just harmony and good food and the kids being happy with everything they got, etc. It was like all the stars aligned and the angels sang. Even the traditional pic of all the grandkids turned out. (Well Alex is a little squinty-eyed, but this is still a really good pic compared to some!)

For Christmas I decided to reward myself a bit by starting a new project - Emma's Garden by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum. I tried to dye the linen per the instructions but it didn't really work - it just lightened the color a bit. I was using Twilght Blue linen though instead of the Amsterdam recommended, so I suppose that is why. I decided to just change the dress to yellow shades so that the blue dress wouldn't blend into the linen color to much. This is what I got done on the 23rd and then on Christmas day. Today it is back to the grind on Katie's blanket. Once I finish one square there I can get onto more fun stuff.

I'm doing a stitch-a-long for Alhambra Garden Dec. 28, 29, 30 &31. Then on Jan1st I'm going to be stitching on my first Chatelaine mystery - Chatelaine's Sampler Mystery II for which I even have the silks! Yippee. Once I finish that the first Mirabilia Round Robin piece should have arrived and I can get going on that. Still have to pick out what to stitch next to Autumn's Forest Goddess, but maybe I'll wait til it arrives to decide. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Contract work

Well, my interview is over, and it went okay. Except that I found out the position for which I applied has already been filled. I knew the company I was interviewing at was just filling the contract position and wasn't the actual company for which I'd be working, but I didn't realize that I wasn't interviewing for a specific job. I'm kinda dissapointed about that because I thought I had a real chance of getting a real job after today's interview, but obviously that didn't happen. The interview did go well though, and the recruiter did say they have writing jobs come up all the time and she thought I had a good chance of getting some sort of placement. Anything would be good at this point just to get some more current work experience on my resume. In the meantime, the job search continues. *sigh*

Stitching wise I finished my section on Deanna's flower-themed Round Robin last night. The Band Sampler RR piece should be arriving soon, but what to work on in the meantime? If I go back to my regular rotation I should do another square on Katie's blanket, but I really don't feel like it. I might also work on the Hardanger Table Runner. Guess it just depends on how disciplined I feel like being today. I also need to get busy and start wrapping some presents, so maybe I'll just do that and not worry about stitching today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cross Your Fingers for Me

I have another interview tomorrow morning. I'm very nervous about it because I really need this job, and the last few interviews I've been on have obviously not landed me a job. I spent the last few days panicing about it because they asked me to bring writing samples. I said , "Sure, no problem." thinking I had several saved on a 3 1/2 floppy from my last job. I've turned the house upside down and cannot find this disk. I did find one stray writing sample from about 5 years ago on another disk, but I had to recreate several more. I have four to take - so I'm hoping that is enough. The job is just a contract position for 6 -8 weeks. I wrote each sample for a different type of writing since it sounds like the job is for a proposal writer, but if they ask the person to stay on permanent they will need to do other types of writing too.

I'm also having trouble reaching all my references. I've gotten ahold of two out of three who have graciously agreed to speak for me. The other though isn't returning my emails/calls. Now, it is the week before Christmas so I know this could be the reason - but he is also the person I know the least out of my references, so I guess I'm paranoid that he doesn't really want to be a reference. I know him only on a professional level, and I always thought he respected my work, but now I'm having doubts. I called his voicemail after office hours today just to see if the recording would say he is on vacation for the holidays, but it doesn't - he should have been in the office the last few days. So is he ignoring me?

I guess if I don't get the job it isn't the end of the world as it is only a contract position for a short amount of time. BUT it would really help my resume to have some more current work experience so that employers know I'm serious about getting back into the workforce. So say a prayer or cross your fingers for me okay? Seriously - I need it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

More ornaments!

Here are some pics of the ornaments I have completed over the last week or ten days. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. :)

The first ornament is "Shepard's Watch" by Shepard's Bush. It was designed for GAST threads, but I used the DMC conversion for the most part. I changed one or two colors to different DMC numbers cause I didn't think they looked good with some of the others. I also stitched the sheep twice - there is a sheep charm that is supposed to be where the center sheep is instead.

The second ornament is by Elizabeth Designs and is called "Christmas Cottage". This was designed to be stitched in Kreinik silks, but I just used DMC sort of going by the picture in the magazine and what colors looked good together and with the cord I was using to finish it.

The next ornament is "A-mazing Hearts" by The Nutmeg Needle. I really enjoyed this one and had orginally planned to do a second one with lavendar hearts, but it took much more time than the other ornaments and I ended up not having the patience to do two. I'll definitely think about doing it again some other year. I stitched it with Dinky Dyes silks that I had left over from my Oops pack and backstitched with some Soie de Alger I had left over from "My Son". I really liked finishing the ornament off this way - it was easier than it sounded and no sewing machine or fussing around with trying to close your
seam evenly or invisibly. You just chain stitch around each side, then join the chain stitches together.

The last ornament is by Elizabeth Designs - I forget the title off hand and I'm too lazy to go drag out my magazine to check. I've stitched this design several times before though - I did it on three hand towels several Christmases ago for my grandmothers and SIL. It is a really easy, quick design and I still had enough of the thread and beads from the other times I did it to make the ornament.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Peace Ornament

This is what I worked on yesterday. It is Peace Ornament by Catherine Strickler of Indigo Rose and appears in one of the Just Cross Stitch Ornament issues. It was really quick and fun to stitch. I'm giving it to Alex's Christian Formation teacher for Christmas this year. His last class until after Christmas break is tomorrow, so I just finished it in the nick of time! I wanted to use a darker color cording, but this is what I had on hand, the back is finished with some green velvet my mom gave me that she had left over from a dress she made. I may finish most of the ornaments I do with that velvet - it makes it look rich. :)

I have several other ornaments I want to stitch too - working on a Shepard's Bush one and another designed by The Nutmeg Needle. I'll probably wait til they are all done and take one pic of them together and post, but since this one is going out to the recipient tomorrow I had to take the pic now.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Gingerbread Snowmen

Instead of our standard cutout cookies, this year I decided to make gingerbread men. After searching Walmart and the grocery for a gingerbread cookie cutter and finding none, I just decided to go with the snowman cutter I already had. I had such visions of cute little gingerbread men (now snowmen) all decked out in multi-colors of frosting. I saw on the food network how to outline in thick frosting and "flood the inside with a thinner frosting to make it look professional. I learned from the Betty Crocker cookbook that you can cut off one tip of an envelope or plastic ziploc bag for a makeshift frosting bag that you can write/draw with. I'd actually used that tip before to write on birthday cakes.

Of course nothing came out like planned, as you can see in the pic. First, I forgot to put in the baking soda when I mixed the dough - which was very thick by the way. I didn't notice this til I was already cutting out cookies. So my cookies, taste pretty good, but they are hard as rocks. When I went to frost them this morning I tried my trusty plastic bag trick to outline the snowmen and ended up with a very sticky hand because the top did not seal properly. Also that was going to take forever. I made it through outlining 2 1/2 cookies before I scraped that idea and decided to just frost them all white with my butterknife and add decorations. This also scraped the idea of making some blue, red, green frostings and 'drawing' on the decorations cause I wasn't messing with that plastic bag anymore. I did manage a few sort of cute cookies with jimmies, choc chips and red hots, but that got real tedious too - so I ended up doing a lot of the above as just frosted with a few decorations thrown on. (If you click on the picture above, you can see some of the cuter ones on the top better.) I got through the 2 dozen I plan on taking to my sis's house on Christmas Eve before I gave up. There are probably another 3 - 4 dozen left. The batch said it made 2 1/2 dozen cookies, but I got way more than twice that.

I think I will just frost the rest and skip the decorating part. You need the frosting to eat them though cause otherwise you can't get past how hard they are! Probably my whole family will just make fun of my hard cookies anyway. Live and learn, I guess - next year I won't forget the baking soda!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mira RR ready to go

Here are two pics of my Mirabilia Round Robin piece now ready to be mailed out. One more thing off my to-do list before the holidays. :) The pattern is Mirabilia's "Mother's Arms". I left off the background which is solid shades of blue stitching in the original pattern. I also added some backstitch lines to the hands because they looked too weird to me without defined fingers. (Actually they still look a little weird to me, but this is better than it was and I'm not a designer.) The original pattern also calls for petite beads because the recommended fabric is 32ct. I used the regular mill hill beads cause I was using a 28ct fabric. They fit just fine that way - the petites would have been way too small.

Deanna's flower themed round robin came in the mail today, so I guess I'll be working on that for the next few days. I found a nice Marie Barber rose design to do in one of my Just Cross Stitch issues. Hope it stitches up easily. :)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Weight Loss :)

Surprisingly my weight loss is continuing to go well. :) Since mid October I haven't really been able to do my 30-40 min walk that I had been doing nearly everyday since April. I credit those walks with jump starting my metabolism and helping me to lose the 14 or so lbs I lost between April and October. Wisconsin is not conducive to long walks in the winter. Especially this week when the highs have only been in the teens. I'd probably tough it out if it were just me, but I cannot take Katie out in the stroller on cold days - even in October I'd bundle her up and when we got home she'd have the coldest hands and cheeks - and the temp was probably in the 40s then.

So all that said, my goal was to just maintain until spring when I can start up my exercise program again. I figured I'd have to really be careful not to gain the weight back without exercising, not to mention all the temptation of the holidays. But I've lost two more lbs since I stopped exercising! At one point I had even lost 4 and broke into the 160s (which I haven't seen since right after Alex was born!) but my body did its usual bounce back when I lose weight. I tend to suddenly lose like four lbs, then gain back two the next day and stay there - for a net loss of two lbs. I cannot say I've been all that good - I had more Halloween candy than I should have and I had desert a few days in a row at Thanksgiving - ummm yummy pumpkin cheesecake. I do try to still eat in moderation and watch portion size. I also don't eat at night anymore and I don't finish my plate just because anymore either. When I feel I've had enough I stop, I don't just keep plowing through cause there is still stuff on my plate. Anyway, whatever the reason I'll take it, even the small amount that it is!

The really weird thing is that the only person besides my DH who has noticed it is my dad. He commented both in August when I saw him for my sis's baby shower and then at Thanksgiving that he could tell I was losing weight. My dad never notices anything - when I got glasses it was two YEARS later that he finally said, "When did you start wearing glasses?" You would think my mom and sisters would notice - but they haven't said a word. I guess part of the problem is that although I've dropped a size (almost two) I'm still wearing the old (big) size clothing because I cannot afford to go out and buy new right now. The waist of my jeans ride at the thickest part of my hips now. So I look the same cause I'm wearing the same clothes. Both times I saw my dad I was wearing a smaller size that had been in my closet since I gained the weight and now I can finally wear that pair of pants again. Course the sisters and mom were there too those days - I dunno.

I should also mention that I'm keeping a ticker of my weight at the bottom of my blog now. I have been for quite a while now, but I don't think I mentioned it before and probably people wouldn't scroll all the way down if they don't know it is there.

I guess that is enough patting myself on the back for one day huh?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Won, I Won!

I won the Dinky Dyes "Yellow Knockered Fairy" thread contest! :) :) You can see and read about my entry here. The prize is my choice of 20 skeins of Dinky Dyes silk thread. I'm just bouncing off the ceiling cause I really didn't have the money to splurge for the cottons for the Chatelaine Sampler Mystery starting in Jan. let alone the silks. Now I can do it in silks. You can see all the competition entries here. There were some really nice entries, in fact, I didn't really think I had much of a chance after seeing some of the other great entries.

In other news, I finished my mom's Christmas present for this year. After the bullion knot debacle I decided to do a hardanger pillow for her. I like hardanger for quick yet impressive gifts - if you pick a simple design it will work up quickly yet still cover a large enough area to look like a large project. I finished this in just one weekend, if I wanted to do a cross stitch this size it would probably take a few whole weeks. I used all stuff from my stash too, so it was essentially free for me to do - very important these days. The pattern is from Hardanger burda special magazine issue E-579. If there is a designer and pattern name listed I couldn't find it. I still might add some cord around the edges, but I think it also looks good without. This was the first time I did an envelope back on a pillow and I'm totally converted to that way of finishing pillows now. That way you can wash the covering if you ever need to, and you don't have to fiddle with trying to close the hole you left to be able to turn the pillow right side out after sewing.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bullion Knots - Yuck!

Today I discovered that I hate Bullion knots. I had never tried them before, and I had a pattern for a beautiful box cover in an old issue of Cross Stitch and Needlework that I had always wanted to do. Thought I would finally get around to it and do it for my mom for Christmas. I got the center motif done except for the bullion knot rose yesterday. Now as you can see in the pic, I can do a reasonably good bullion knot if I work at it really hard. I even managed to do a whole rose plus the one bud off to the side. BUT, it took almost an hour of cursing and redoing and knoted mess of thread and frustration to accomplish this. By the time I finished it I knew there was no way I could do the whole boxtop, which has an oval border of these hellish things.

Not willing to just scrap what I'd already done I turned it into an ornament. I'm not really happy with the finishing - so I think I'll just keep it for my own tree rather than giving it away. I did think I might use it as a teacher gift or something, but it doesn't look professional enough for me to do that.

So now back to the drawing board for finding something to do for mom for Christmas. I may do a hardanger doily - I dunno....

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Peony Eyeglasses Case

I just finished this for my grandmother for Christmas. The design is "Peony Eyeglasses Case" by Marie Barber and it appears in the Feb 2004 issue of Just Cross Stitch. The model in the mag was done on black fabric and was very stunning. Since I didn't have any 32ct black in my stash I used this blue color instead. It was just a remanent in my stash that I picked up from my old LNS when she closed. (She let me take a bunch of remanents for a crazy low price.) So I don't really know what kind of linen or color this fabric really is. The cording is just two shades of pink DMC from the design attached with quilting invisible thread. The backing fabric isn't visible in the photo but is a blue satin that I had scraps left over from other projects.

I'm pretty please with how it came out - I think my Grandma Hamm will like it. :)