Come visit with me as I stitch and craft my way from one Christmas to the next - I like to have Christmas projects close by me all year. I have a particular fondness for Santas and Angels. If you have the time, leave a comment so I know you've visited.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A little progress

I've almost finished the white stitches on the wing, and I've beaded the top section. I'm running a bit behind schedule as I've had limited stitching time. My Dad is very ill, in the Intensive Care Unit, so I have been spending lots of time with him and my siblings in the past week.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The jury is back ...

it WAS a good idea! My 'new' computer is all set up and everything is working well - and so quickly! In fact, this computer works much faster than I think - or type - so I never find myself waiting for it to catch up, and so far it hasn't gone into a brainsnap and hung up on me like my old computer was prone to do. I'm now thinking of Vista as an old friend who just needs things done her way and all will be well. The only thing I still have to do (a task for tomorrow) is to import my old Outlook Express Contacts into Windows Mail, and I'm pretty sure I know how to do that.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It seemed like a good idea at the time ...

but was it really? The jury's still out. My Dad suggested that we swap my old ailing computer with his new unused computer. He bought the computer last year with the intent of learning to use it, but it just hasn't worked out for him. It's been sitting unused in his room, except for when I would turn it on to tempt him to play a Solitaire on it. My computer is very slow and often hangs up. So, we swapped over the computers. Sounds simple. It wasn't! I have been on a steep learning curve over the past few days, transferring files and discovering how to make my old software work with Vista (my computer was running Windows XP). I think I have it all worked out now. I've even learned to use a portable hard drive and a memory stick. I had a major dummy spit when I couldn't make the printer work - till I finally twigged that the printer cartridges were out of date and that's why the printer was not working. Tonight I'm feeling much happier about the whole deal. My Dad's happy too - it's unlikely that he will ever touch my old computer, but for him it has one major advantage over the more modern one - my old computer doesn't have a bright blue light flashing when it's 'sleeping', so it won't disturb him at night (it really doesn't take much to please my Dad these days!). With all the computer transferring, I've not done as much stitching this week as I would have liked. I replaced the gold bead trim on the bodice with gold Mill Hill petite beads, and I do like the effect of the petite beads, I've made a start on the wings, and I've chosen beads (clear and palest blueMill Hill petite beads) to replace the two darker shades in the wings. So far I've just stitched the beads in the tiny left hand section of the wing. I haven't yet added the beads to the rest of the partially-stitched wing. I'd like to finish the wings in the coming week. Here's what the Angel looks like tonight:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Progress pic - Angel of Grace

My Angel is growing very slowly, I'm afraid. So many choices about where to stitch, and as you can see I have bits started all over the place. But still no wings in sight . I will be making a start on stitching the wings tomorrow, just as soon as I decide whether or not to replace one or both of the darker stitches in the wings with beads. I keep vacillating between using beads and sticking with the floss as charted. I will probably go with the floss, but I think the beads would look lovely. Of course, I don't yet have any beads in the right shades, so I'll need to make a trip to my lns soon if I do go with the beads option. I'm certainly using floss for the white stitches, so I guess I could start with those, and defer the bead/floss decision till later if necessary.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

TUSAL - a new year, a fresh jar

Here is my completed 2009 TUSAL jar. s you can see, it's pretty full. The lovely pink and white threads at the top of the jar are from the sleeves of my Angel of Grace. and here is my empty jar, ready to start the 2010 TUSAL.
I'm using the same 3 litre jar as I used last year. The plastic bag next to the jar holds all my 2009 stitching waste. It weighs a little over 300 grams - about 10 ounces, I was considering some use for my TUSAL jar contents, but finally decided not to hang onto it. So, it's final trip will be into my garbage can tomorrow morning.

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 is looking better ...

Today I received out of the blue a lovely surprise in the mail - a box full of treasures from my internet friend Mary from USA. Here are some of the contents:

She sent a lovely Christmas apron (Santa pattern), super-sized to fit me, that is reversible, with a lovely bright and cheery floral design on the other side; a cute Santa cross stitched ornament; a lovely lace angel; some pretty pointsettia fabric; a cute little cross stitched house on vinyl fabric; a crocheted doiley; lots of beading supplies; a box of 'thank you' cards, and some note pads. As an added thoughtful touch she filled the spaces in the box with polyester wadding, which I use to fill diamond puff ornaments and pin cushions. It really brightened my day! Mary and I are long-term members of a great little internet cross stitch group - it's only small, but very friendly and active. It was a good dayfor me when I stumbled across this group soon after I got internet access in 2002.

Actually, this was the second surprise gift I received this week. My friend Trish who came to visit last Monday with her daughter Sara brought me a large bunch of the roses she grows in her front yard. I took this picture tonight.
The roses look even more beautiful tonight (late Friday) than they did last Monday, as they have opened up. The aroma is just gorgeous. I walk past them each time I enter or leave my kitchen, and each time I take a moment to enjoy them, and to think of Trish and Sara.
Yesterday was a sad day for me, the funeral of my friend's mother Vi. I first met Vi about 22 years ago, shortly after I met her daughter Janet, my friend. Vi was 70 years young then. I always enjoyed her company, and in particular, her conversation. She had little formal education (by circumstance, not choice), but had immersed herself in books and films during her life, and through these resources she sought out knowledge of the world, its history, and its people. She didn't have an easy life, particularly in the years when her four children were growing up, and she worked hard to ensure that her children were formally educated and prepared for a life better than hers. The proof that she succeeded in this aim was there at her funeral. I have been to many funeral services in my life, but never one that was so personal, loving, and joyful. The tributes from each of her children and grandchildren were beautiful. Some wrote poems, others prose; some were read by the writer, others read by the funeral celebrant. All were touching, and so very emotive. Vi was a very special lady, and will be sorely missed by all who knew her. I am richer for having known her, and I am sure there are many others who feel the same.
RIP, Vi.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Things I have learned ...

These days I'm spending quite a lot of time thinking. Three times a week I walk in the deep water of a local public pool for an hour and a half. An hour and a half is a long time to walk up and down one lane of a 25 metre long pool. There's not a lot to focus on - though I do enjoy following the progress of the toddlers learning to swim in the next pool, and there are usually 15-20 other people in my pool to keep an eye on, and from 9am to 9.45am there's a water aerobics class that is interesting to watch. But it still leaves me plenty of thinking time. In September and October I thought about my Christmas market stalls - how I would arrange the tables, how I would display the stock, what things I needed to make etc. In November I thought about how I would go about putting up my Christmas decorations and pack away the non-Christmas things. In December I focused on how I would pack away Christmas, and return the house to normal. January came, and I found I had nothing needing considering or planning. So I started thinking about the things I have learned about myself over the last year or so. Here are some of the things I have learned (in no particular order):
  • Whereas I always thought I liked cross stitching, in fact the thing I like is finishing each cross stitch project. I discovered this when I started my first HAED design and stitched madly for 5 months solidly without finishing any projects, including the HAED design.
  • I don't really understand the concept of moderation. I discovered this when I began buying on eBay, and found that in a short time I had more fabric than any one person could use in several lifetimes. Of course, the fact that I've hardly been able to get any cupboard door in the craft room closed for the past 5 years or so should have given me a hint about the no moderation thing, as should the fact that my weight would be in the acceptable range only if my height was about 4 metres (13 feet). I'd never considered myself a slow learner, but - maybe that's something I should ponder on my walks.
  • I am much better at cleaning out cupboards than I am at actually keeping them neat and ordered. Sometimes I feel that I should place an "Open with Caution" tag on my wardrobe, linen press and pantry. My wardrobe and linen press are nice and tidy right now, as I traditionally clean them out on New Years Day, and they just haven't had time to get messed up yet. It's a good thing that I have house-guests from time to time, because that is what prompts me to 'do' the pantry. It's also nice and clean tonight, having been cleaned yesterday for my houseguests who arrived this evening.
  • I am able to appear in public in my swimming outfit (I call it that as it is composed of lycra bike shorts that come almost to my knees. a bra, and a lycra short-sleeved T-shirt I bought in 1980). Some day, hopefully soon, I shall summon up the courage to go shopping for swimmers. Maybe.

That's enough thinking for now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My first 'finish' for 2010

It's sad little finish. I stitched it as a memento for my friend, whose mother died unexpectedly this week. Her name was Violet, so I stitched a posy of little violets in memory of this lovely lady who is now pain-free and at peace. The design is from a Jill Oxton magazine, and I think the designer is Di Noyce. I've stitched this design before, and I probably will stitch it again - it's such a pretty little posy. I stitched this one on a scrap of hand-dyed linen, and I have framed it in a glass frame I had in my stash.
So far, 2010 is not shaping up well. I really feel as if it is not going to be one of my better years. We're not yet 2 weeks into the year and already there's been a death in my circle of friends, MIL has had a nasty fall leaving her with cuts and bruises, my Dad's health and mental status have both deteriorated markedly and his renal function is greatly diminished, I've had a fall and injured my right knee, the car service cost twice as much as anticipated, and I've had to buy an unplanned washing machine. However, I have to concede that none of these worries really rate in the grand scheme of things. There are people in Australia right now coping with the consequences of floods and fires and other disasters, so I will stop my whining and just get on with enjoying my life as it unfolds.

Friday, January 8, 2010

My Angel is growing slowly

I am really enjoying stitching this Angel. I have always liked stitching L&L designs, and this is no exception. The picture really doesn't do it justice. I have made a few little changes. I dislike stitching with metallic thread, so I substituted some DMC floss and some Mill Hill beads for the metallics in the bodice and at the wrists. I also substituted Mill Hill beads instead of the charted cross stitches for the floral trim in the hair. She needs a few beads, as she will be hanging near the heavily-beaded L&L Angel of Love at Christmas. I was hoping to have that second sleeve finished by the end of today's stitching, but it just didn't happen. I am keen to get the sleeve finished so that I can start on her wing, because right now she really doesn't look particularly like an Angel.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A new experience for me

I have finally had a photo taken which I recognise as being me! Here it is (warts and all as they say):
It was taken in August but I just had it emailed to me today by the friend who took it (thanks, Donna!). I was really enjoying the party at the time - it was Donna's birthday party. I have to admit to having a couple of drinks before the camera appeared, and I do recall feeling very relaxed and comfortable (unusual for me at a party, as I'm just not a party girl). Just goes to show - wait long enough (60+yrs in this case!) and good things can happen.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Not happy, Jan ...

So far this year (all 46 hrs of it) at my house it's been one step forward, two steps back. I do hope this trend is not going to continue. To nip it in the bud, I've decided to only look at the positives. Today, the positives have been:
  1. I have sparkling clean floors on the bottom level of thehouse, I have cleaned out and mopped the bottom of the laundry cupboards, washed my two fabric Esky bags, and washed down my laundry walls. These things were not on my 'to do' list this morning. They became necessary when I got home from an unexpected outing (refer to Positive No 2 below) and found that my new washing machine, which I had stupidly left running through its first load had flooded the laundry big-time. I did check the water hose connection before I turned the machine on, and it seemed OK, and it wasn't leaking when I left the house an hour into the cycle, but apparantly at the end of the cycle the back pressure in the tap caused water to spurt out of the hose/tap connection - a lot of water. Luckily, the entire bottom floor is slate, not carpet.
  2. MIL's car battery does not need replacing, despite the fact that she left her car lights on all morning while the car was parked in her driveway. The battery was, however, flat as a pancake, and MIL (who is 85 and not in the best health) was too tired/stressed to take her car for a long drive in the blinding rain to recharge the battery after it was jump-started. As a result, I was away from the house not the 15 minutes I expected it would take to solve this little problem, but an hour and a half. That gave my washing machine plenty of time to create the havoc described above.
  3. My Dad is feeling a lot brighter today. So much so that he decided to fix his electric razor, which hasn't been working to his satisfaction lately. Unfortunately, he's not as good a handyman as he once was -he was brilliant in his day - and as a result we now have a lovely mix of a pile of small pieces from two electric razors (the current one, and the previous one which I was silly enough not to throw out when it was replaced last year). I spent about an hour trying to sort the pieces out, but it's way beyond my powers, and it's pretty obvious that neither razor will ever work again. So, I'll be off electric razor shopping tomorrow, I guess. And while I'm at it, I'll buy him a new torch to replace the pile of torch bits (looks like 3 torches in this pile) I found while looking for razor parts ...
  4. My washing machine is working beautifully now that the water problem has been fixed. On the basis of a fine day promised for tomorrow by the local TV afternoon news team, I have done 5 full loads of washing, much of which can not be put through the clothes dryer. The local TV late news weather forecaster has just advised that we are now expecting storms and rain tomorrow - lots of rain. I love rain, and we certainly need it, though it has rained here a lot each day since Christmas Day, but I do hope the forecast is wrong this time, and I can get my clothes dry tomorrow. Otherwise, my house is going to be festooned with makeshift racks of hopefully-drying clothes for the forseeable future.

I'm already wondering if 2010 is going to be my best year ...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Angel of Grace - started

Despite the fact that L&L's Angel of Grace has been on my lap-frame for days, I've had very little chance to stitch on her, so very little progress to show this week - just some of her hair stitched. I hope to have more stitching time next week. The Angel of Grace is my project for the 2010 Christmas Design SAL.
I've had a less than ideal start to the New Year. My 87 year old Dad, who has severe heart failure and a number of other health issues including early dementia, had a very difficult time today. He was so very distressed and depressed, in such a state that he felt he had no options left and wanted to die. His thinking was very disturbed, and I found it hard to manage his distress. I'm sure that he was in pain, though he didn't complain of pain as such. I gave him some extra pain relief tablets and eventually got him to settle in bed and have a sleep. Fortunately he was much brighter and more his usual self when he woke up this evening, so I feel happier about him now. I hope that he will have a better day tomorrow.
In between spending time with Dad I did manage to do my traditional New Years Day jobs - cleaning out the linen press and my wardrobe. I do like to start the year with a tidy linen press and a neat de-cluttered wardrobe, even if I know that I won't be able to maintain the same standard for the whole year - or even the month of January, unfortunately (I'm better at cleaning cupboards than I am at keeping them organised and tidy). Right now I'm feeling very happy - there's a lovely odour of fresh camphor coming from the bedroom level, I have a nice big bag of discarded clothes for charity, and a pile of new rags in the rag bag.
We're expecting a new addition to the household tomorrow - a new washing machine. The old one died earlier this week after a troubled life with us. We got to know the repairman quite well over the last ten years, and though he did his best to keep her going, she just came to a grinding (and noisy) halt on Tuesday last. At least she had the grace to go at a good time - right in the middle of the post-Christmas sales! I had a pleasant surprise to find that the bigger, better, more water and electricity efficient washer we decided on is actually cheaper now than our old washer was 10 years ago, and as an added bonus, we'll get $150 cash refund from the Australian Government for purchasing a water-efficient washer. We're expecting the new washer to arrive around lunch-time tomorrow, so think of me tomorrow afternoon as I try to reduce the mound of dirty laundry that's accumulated during the week.
Happy New Year! I hope that 2010 brings you and your loved ones a year of good health, good fortune, and contentment.