Friday, November 30, 2007

Outlining is FUN!

There you all are scratching your heads, convinced that I have gone 'round the bend. Backstitching and outlining are the bane of most stitchers' existences. But I have to say I really enjoyed stitching the outlining on this opossum today. Maybe it was because I am feeling rather punk today. No, nowhere near as bad as those of you who have hacking coughs and fevers. But I have had that achy, headachy, can't-stand-up-for-long feeling for a day or two and decided last night that I was going to try to take it easy today. Maybe it was because cross stitching this particular design has been much harder than it had any right to be. I made multiple counting errors (and left them). I dislike the fabric, but wasn't going to change it since it has to match the chipmunk (same fabric in a different color). So maybe it was relief to just outline all the stitched areas without referring the chart, except for the tricky bits around the paws. This seemed to simply flow along. I was just going to do the opossum (so that you can see him correctly) and some of the leaves, but I ended up doing a lot of the branches, too. Another hour or two on this and I can move on.

The only other thing that we did today was have our missed Thanksgiving dinner. We bought a fresh turkey from Whole Foods yesterday and brined him overnight (using Alton Brown's recipe). I'm a big, big fan of stuffing (my grandmother's recipe), but Alton's recipe calls for a cavity filled with aromatics, so no stuffing this time. Since it was my husband's responsibility to cook this week, he also insisted on having some cornbread dressing. We made the cornbread last night and even managed not to eat too much of it. It was SO good right out of the oven.

Since it was only the two of us (and neither of us at our best), it was an abbreviated meal. No olives or stuffed mushrooms to start. No corn, mashed potatoes, or home made rolls with the meal, and no pumpkin pie at the end. We did manage some great turkey and gravy, the cornbread dressing, some broccoli with bernaise sauce and my favorite cranberry relish (cranberries, apples, and oranges). I might make a brandied pumpkin pie this weekend. But I know in the next day or two we will have Hot Browns (Mmmmm, turkey, bacon, cheese sauce).

Well, this is the last day of NaBloPoMo, a month of blogging. As most of us who have tried this experiment in daily blogging, I am glad to have it over. When I first started blogging in February I managed 24 posts in that first month. I was always disappointed in the months where I only managed 12 posts. But after 30 posts in a row, I think I can say that from now on I will be happy with 15 - 18 posts a month. It will certainly be better for you, dear readers, as you will have less filler and more stitchy goodness. I want to congratulate my fellow stitchers who also managed this uphill task and all the readers, constant or casual, who followed along with us.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

This week’s SBQs were suggested by Heather:
What would your stash tell others about you?
It would say that I have a LOT of Rainbow Gallery and Kreinik threads, many more than I could ever use. It would say I have a LOT of handpainted needlepoint canvases, some of them very large. Most of them will not be finished in this lifetime.

Most of us stitchers joke about having reached SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy), but have you thought about what you’d like done with your stash after your death? Do you want it to reach other stitchers who will love it, too? Would your family know what to do with it or recognize its value?

I would like to give all my stash away to stitchers, but I'm not sure how that will work. I have started to give some away here and there, but that still leaves me with a LOT. If I do not die suddenly, I would try to give away as much as I can.

Actually we do have a Living Family Trust with a professional executor. It's not that I worry about my family recognizing the value of my stitching materials. I know they won't. But we do have a lot of expensive photography and paintings. We want to make sure that they do not go to Goodwill. I don't want to see our Ansel Adams in the trash! I suppose I could make a stitching value list as we have done for our artwork. But I would rather give it away.

How well organized is your stash –would someone be able to come in and put together a sale easily, or would it require lots of organizing work ahead of time? What would you like to see done with the funds collected from such a sale, i.e., should funds go to your family, to a charity or charities of your choice, to a charity or charities of your family’s choice, etc.?

My stash is pretty well organized. A lot of it is inventoried in a database. I would need to make printouts and store them with the stash, but you could probably put together a sale in about a day. Our living trust is pretty well divided between charities and family members. Family members will have a chance to pick out individual items as keepsakes before the bulk of the estate is sold.

Are there certain items in your stash which are rare and highly desired by stitchers that might make a much larger amount of money if sold on eBay? Have you done anything to designate which items these more valuable ones are to guide your family in how to handle them? Who would you tell your family should handle such a sale so that they don’t have to do it themselves? Have you done anything to make these thoughts known to others, either through discussions or through a codicil to your will?

I really have no idea if anything in my stash is more valuable than average. Some of the handpainted canvases are probably pretty valuable, but I doubt that any of the cross stitch patterns are really that valuable. I doubt that even the professional executor would take the time to sell anything on Ebay. And I doubt that Sotheby's would be terribly interested in my stitching, though they may covet our artwork.

Have you ever attended a similar sale of a passed stitcher’s stash? How did it make you feel? Did it encourage you to make any changes in your stitching lifestyle?

I know that a lot of the threads and fabric that I bought on Ebay, especially those I bought five or more years ago, were from estate sales. They were priced to sell in large lots and rarely got a lot of bids. Sometimes they were not even listed in the right categories. I did wonder about the people selling them and their previous owners. Some of them were obviously lovingly labeled and packaged. Although I did stop haunting the Ebay thread and fabric auctions some time ago, my stitching lifestyle did not really change until this year, when I started stitching more and more. The more I stitch the pickier I get about patterns, fabrics, and threads. Time is too short to stitch on aida or other bad fabrics. And I really would like to limit my stash acquisition, though I think I would have to stop reading blogs to stop seeing all the lovely patterns that other people are doing. I will try to slow down my acquisition, but as you all know, it is impossible to stop.


I spent this morning collecting my thoughts and processing them into action items. I am probably only 25% through with all the things I want to do, but I think we have everything listed that needs to get done in the next two months. I'm having a hard time convincing my husband that writing everything down will help take these things off his mind. He just sees a long list of things to do and panics. Well, he's only started to read David Allen's book. After he finishes it, the process may come more naturally to him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

End of Year Thoughts

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. --- Thomas Edison
I know that November is not yet over, but our December will be pretty well filled, so I am trying to organize as much of my life as I can now, so I will be ready for the new year. I've talked about David Allen's Getting Things Done book on organization. I have been trying to use his techniques (collect, process, organize, review, and DO) and they have worked very well with getting the cottage set up. There was a lot of work, but although I was tired, I never felt that I "forgot" something or I was missing some essential process. I simply wrote down everything that needed doing, wrote down the action steps to complete each task, and worked on each task as time and energy allowed without worrying if I would finish "everything". I did all the major tasks and ignored those that were no longer essential when looked at objectively. If some of these tasks look more important when we return in January, I still have my list. I have forgotten nothing and I am not sitting here worrying about what I might have forgotten or still need to do. I know I did what I could. It's a good feeling.

But, of course, there are a dozen or more projects in my life that are still rustling around in my head claiming my time and my attention, because I have not written them down. It just shows me how a system (any system) is only as good as you put the energy into it. We all "clean up", but how long before we let things get out of hand again? So I need to "clean up" my mind and get all those little nagging thoughts out into the open and down on paper so that I can face them and really decide if and when they are getting done (or not).

This blog has been very good for getting my goals (and finishes) down out in the open for me to see. Other people's blogs inspire me, but this blog shows me how I really live my life and not how I think I live my life. I can look back and see what I have actually accomplished in almost a year. I can see the projects that made me happy and those that did not and why. By January I should have a good list of projects. Some of them will be fulfilled in 2008 and others will not, but none of them should nag me for being disregarded. Deciding not to do something is as important as doing something. So here's what I am doing to make 2008 even more productive than 2007.
Get everything out of your head. Make decisions about actions required on stuff when it shows up -- not when it blows up. Organize reminders of your projects and the next actions on them in appropriate categories. Keep your system current, complete, and reviewed sufficiently to trust your intuitive choices about what you're doing (and not doing) at any time. -- David Allen

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dinner or Stitching?

Well I guess this shows where my priorities lie. No dinner, but I did finish the cross stitch on this opossum ornament. Of course that means that this is only one third done. I still have all the backstitching. Then it is not enough to say, "Done" and put it in a drawer. I will also have to finish FINISH it and make it into an ornament. But that won't be for a while. When I finish the backstitching, I'm going to work on the chipmunk ornament next.

After the chipmunk is done, I will have to make some harder decisions. Do I finish FINISH the lighthouse flatfold for my nephew's wife? Do I try to frame the cow for my niece? Or do I try to finish the backstitching on a group of Christmas ornaments that I started a decade ago? There is always the fabric dilemma, too. I have some nice pig fabric for my sister-in-law that I bought to make into a Hawaiian shirt for her. I also have some cow fabric for my niece and some lighthouse fabric for my nephew's wife. I was going to make some fabric covered boxes for them, but now I have lots of cute purse patterns. I could probably make up one or two purses before Christmas, but who for? Some of these decisions will be circumscribed by the fact that we are having two parties here at the house on December 13th (a cookie making party) and the 15th (a holiday party for Las Vegas science fiction fans). From the 12th on, the house has to be reasonably neat. I can be working on some stitching, but the sewing machine will have to be tucked away during that time. And I am not taking the sewing machine to Boston the 7th through the 9th. I might not even have time to stitch in Boston!

Thinking about other people's gifts always takes my mind off trying to come up with something for them to give to me. This is always a major hassle. I can't even think of anything for my husband to buy for me for Christmas. The latest thing we came up with for me was a nice big rotary paper cutter. Not very romantic and not very easy to carry across the country. I don't have anything small for him either, but I am well known for getting him things on the internet and just wrapping a picture of his gift as a present. That's how I got him his telescope that I had shipped directly to Hawaii. Unfortunately the only thing we really need is about a month of free time. I can't think of any way to give that to him.

Monday, November 26, 2007

More ATC Diversions

I have signed up for a few more Art Trading Cards swaps. These are the ones I worked on today. The swap specified using techniques in the book Artist Trading Cards Workshop. This particular exercise asked for a background of phone book pages. We had an old phone book in Maui that I brought back with me. I picked out some pages last week, but I didn't have the materials to make everything until last Wednesday and I didn't have time to make them then. I made these today. First you glue down the phone book page to card stock. Then you rub paint on parts of the page (or not). Then you add words and embellishments or draw. I tried to write and draw on the first one, but although my handwriting is legible, it is not calligraphic. I didn't even get the sticker where I wanted it. (The eel is too high and covers up part of Maui Divers.)

But that is what these exercises are all about. Each one is so small that even it if doesn't turn out as you had planned, you just move on to the next one. I had a lot of Vegas stickers from our Las Vegas convention parties, so I made up this one. This time I used an interesting font on clear sticky paper. It was just a bit longer than would fit, so it is more skewed than I would like.

The next one was another experiment. Instead of a single page, I used multiple pieces of phone book paper. Most of these names are Japanese. I wanted to indicate that the Japanese that moved to Hawaii found a home here. So I hope that this says Home Sweet Home in Japanese. I used Babelfish for the translation. It might say anything at all!

Now I am back to the Yellow Pages. I picked a gardening section and added palm trees and a bright sun. The stickers are glittery, but they aren't as bright as they seem here. I scanned these cards and the bright light made the shiny bits light up.

This one is called "Sew Good". I tacked down a bunch of embellishments with Tacky Glue. I hope they all stay put in their trip to New Jersey.

The last two are my favorites. I used some restaurant pages for the background, then some red at the bottom like a table cloth and some white at the top so that the letters would show up. I love these drink stickers.

I really, really like this one. I used the coffee page and added some tan paint. I found some coffee images in the Williams Sonoma and the Dean & Delucca Christmas catalogs and cut them out. The font is JAZZ, which I just love. The scanner cut off a bit of the left side, so it is not really that close to the edge. I like the combination of text, color, and images. It all works in 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Branches and Borders

I came very, very close to missing my NaBloPoMo post last night. We were so busy all day that I almost forgot to post. But I did get a rather skimpy post in just before midnight. If you will go back to look at that post again, NOW I have added a picture of Ruth and me. Yes, I am really, really short. That's good for caving I know, but not really too good for getting things down from the top of shelves. I have a step stool in a lot of rooms. This ornament really is almost all cross stitched. Just two and a half leaves at the bottom right and the rest of the border on the top and bottom. Of course there is the backstitching and the finishing finishing. I'll be looking for a backing fabric tomorrow. I'm not going to promise to finish it anytime specific. That has come back to haunt me too many times already.

The drive back to Nevada was uneventful. Again we hadn't eaten all day, so stopped at Le Roi du Burger first, then drove straight home. It was a nice convention, but I will be glad when the convention we are running in July is over so that we can go to a convention without sitting at a table and holding parties every night. Actually we won't have to do either of those things in Boston, but that is going to be a lightning fast trip.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Hooray! I met Ruth today In Real Life and she is just as delightful as her blog. She even sat through two of my panels. Now that is fortitude. But I got to show her my opossum and she even liked it. Now all I need to do is finish it.

I had three panels today that all went well and am now running a room party. Anyone want some cheese?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Convention-al Thinking

We made it safely to the hotel last night. Unfortunately we didn't leave at noon as I had planned. Between one thing and another it was almost 4:30 pm when we left, only to be back at the house in 45 minutes when my husband realized that he had left his cell phone there. Our second start went more smoothly, but now it was pitch dark, so no stitching while driving. Instead we listened to two Holiday CDs that we got through Like most other people's music there were a couple of songs we liked, many that we ignored and only a couple that were truly wretched (like The Kinks Father Christmas). We did end up having greek food for dinner, but it was very good.

The only real hitch in the day was parking at the hotel. There was no parking left for guests when we got there, as they had sold their parking lots (as many hotels are doing these days) to an outside service and that service had filled the lot with cars parked there by people who take the free hotel shuttle to the airport without ever actually staying at the hotel. We are parked in the valet area with the hotel's permission and are hoping to avoid being towed. Hotels keep thinking they will make a lot of money by selling their parking lots to outside services, but I know from experiences in the SF Bay Area that the hotels are only losing both room and restaurant profits. Yet here they are locked into these long term contracts where the parking services take all the money and the hotels are the long term losers.

So what does one do at a science fiction convention? Many, many things!!! This morning after breakfast my husband went and hung his art in the art show, then talked to some of our friends who are dealers (they sell tshirts). You can also find book dealers, jewelers, and sword sellers. I set up the fan table. We are here to promote our own convention that will be in Las Vegas next Fourth of July weekend. We sold four memberships today and handed out a lot of postcards with the website listed on it. While sitting the table I talked to our friends running Loscon for next year and friends from Denver who are running the Worldcon there next August. James had a panel on archeology at 2 pm. At 4:30 pm we went out with a friend from San Francisco and got party food at a local grocery store. Now we are setting up the room for a party for the Las Vegas convention and tomorrow we do it all again. I have three panels (on bookish topics--one with Harry Turtledove and Tim Powers), James has three panels (on archeology and on art) and we will throw another party tomorrow night. Sunday I will sit the fan table while James has his final panel and eventually we will drive back to Nevada.

I did do about fifteen stitches on the opossum. I finished a leaf and started more of the branches. I will try to take a picture tomorrow after I have a bit more finished.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Road Trip

Now that we are about to hit the road for the four hour drive to Los Angeles, I wondered how other people driving to and from Turkey Day festivities spend their time. Often we just talk or spend the time watching the scenery. Last time we drove to San Diego we rented Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, an audiobook of short stories read by Neil himself. It was wonderful, but we only got through half the book. We are planning to listen to the other half on this trip. But I also have a couple of CDs (Holiday Music, Female Voices) from if we get tired of listening to stories. If I am in the car by myself, I will generally listen to NPR, especially Marketplace. But getting any stations in the middle of the desert is difficult, so road trips always need an iPod and CDs.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and ate all the turkey they wanted to.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why I Wish Christmas Was Over

It's not that I don't like the holiday season, because I do. I like Christmas music. I like Holiday parties. I like decorating the house. But if it were after Christmas I could be stitching this instead of Christmas presents.

Can you sense a lack of enthusiasm for my current pattern? I don't hate it, but it seems boring. The fabric is too loose. All the quarter stitches seem too picky. And there is a ton of backstitching to be done. I haven't added a stitch since we came back to Nevada. Some of the reasons are the usual ones; about a quarter ton of mail to go through (man, we get a LOT of catalogs), trying to unpack the suitcase from Hawaii, trying to pack the things we will need for Los Angeles including the party kit (don't forget the stand up Elvis!) and the need to eat and sleep. Nope, Ruth, I still need to sleep, though eating is pretty catch as catch can these days. I have no idea where we will eat tomorrow. The Mad Greek?

The plan is to try to stitch some during the drive tomorrow. I tried that a little bit on the drive back from San Diego. I wasn't entirely happy with the attempt, but if I just try some black backstitching on what I have done, that might go a bit smoother.

Happy Turkey Day to all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stashingly Different

Remember when I started falling off the wagon? It started so innocently. Just a little fabric from Silkweavers. Well, here is that order. A big (24" x 27") Solo in 32 count Opalescent Lugana and six Mini Solos (9" x 13"), four in 28 count (one opalescent Jazlyn) and two 32 count (one opalescent Lugana). The more I stitch, the more I love evenweave fabric and the more I love 32 count. I would like to do a Mirabilia mermaid on the large fabric. I have The Queen Mermaid which calls for Water Lily Linen by Wichelt (a lighter green) and Deepest Love which calls for Belfast Amsterdam Blue Linen (a medium blue). Frankly I don't like Amsterdam Blue with that pattern. The colors in the thread look too washed out on that blue. I'll have to do a floss toss to see how Deepest Love looks on the Solo. The piece is almost big enough for Hawaiian Mandala (21" x 21" design), but I still want a "sandy color" for that one.

It's all Lisa's fault. She has this great blog about creating your own handbags. I've been reading it for several months and of course, now I have to make a handbag. I wanted to make this carpetbag, so I went online to see who was selling this pattern and I ran into SewThankful. An hour later and I had a cart full of bag patterns. When I came back to Nevada last night, these patterns were waiting for me. And just to tie this back into stitching, the first pattern set, Totally Trendy Totes, has a pattern (in three sizes) for a mesh stitching tote (shown at the bottom of their picture). I also bought some plastic mesh from them, so I should be ready to sew some totes next week. (Zippers! Zippers! Have to go out and get some zippers!) Of course, the Carpetbag pattern and the tubular frames that they need are backordered. Maybe I'll get them next week.

I missed the time change on the mainland. Hawaii keeps the same standard time all year, since below the Tropic of Cancer there is only about a half an hour between the shortest day of the year and the longest. Changing the time would save no "daylight" there. But when I went to take these pictures at 4:30 pm PST, it was DARK! I forget that Las Vegas is right on the eastern edge of the Pacific Time Zone. When we go back to Standard Time, it gets dark early. In some way this is a good thing because the family room is all windows and open to the rest of the house, too many to curtain or put blinds on. We have to wait until dark to watch television. And now dark comes a lot earlier. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? :-)

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Face and Some Leaves

No, I did not finish this before we left. But I should be able to finish it before we leave for Loscon on Thursday. Then I can start on the chipmunk from the same design book. If I can get them both done (that means finished finished) before December 20th when we leave for back east, then I will have two Christmas gifts for my mother-in-law. If I finish the lighthouse as a flatfold, I will have a gift for my nephew's wife. If I frame the cow I stitched years ago, I will have a gift for my niece. And if I stitch something else for my nephew's new baby (I was thinking something small like a Baby's Sleeping door hanger), then I will have five handmade gifts. I could go wild and try to finish something with pigs for my sister-in-law, but I shouldn't get ahead of myself when none of these are done. ;-)

We are off to the airport momentarily. Of course, the blinds for the cottage arrived today. Not much we can do about them now, but if the Realtor wants them installed, she can get it done. We won't be back until late January. Good Monday to all!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cottage Complete

It took a lot of time, but not a whole lot of money. And it is finally DONE. This is what the cottage looks like coming up the driveway. The roof is not a continuous pitch, but flattens out near the edges. It is a common roofline in Hawaii. The color of the outside is close to adobe. It's the color of Maui dirt. People try to paint their houses white, but they always end up looking this color from the dirt swirling in the air everywhere on the island.

This is the Master Bedroom with the Master Bath just beyond. It's not very big, but it does have a small walk in closet. We debated about putting a full size bed in here, but finally went with a queen size, even though it takes up much more room. No couple really wants to sleep on a full size bed.

Here is the kitchen fully furnished. I love the little chest we found. It fits great on that wall and can act as a small bar. I don't have a picture of the details, but the knobs on the cabinets match the granite on the counter top, Dakota Mahogany. The appliances are all stainless steel.

And here is the empty space I showed you yesterday now furnished and decorated. The pictures are hard to see, but they very Hawaiian in a non-touristy way. We tried to keep the colors neutral, but I love green and so most of the house is green with brown and tan. The floor is slate, so the browns and greens go well with the floor.

And so ends our decorating adventure. We signed with a Realtor this morning. The house will be listed for sale tomorrow. We have done all we can to make the place sell quickly.

I even got some stitching done this afternoon. That was after a celebratory lunch at Hula Grill, complete with Mai Tais. I'll have a stitching picture tomorrow. I hope everyone had a wonderful (and productive) weekend.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I Am Not Ready to Leave

This is what the cottage looked like before we started furnishing it. The door on the left hand side is to the small second bedroom with the futon. To the farther left is the master bedroom and bathroom. Directly ahead is the main bathroom (the only one with a tub). This picture was taken in the living room/dining room area looking towards the kitchen. Behind the kitchen is the tractor shed and a short hallway to the two car garage (with washer and dryer). Tomorrow, pictures of the cottage furnished. We have worked on all the little bits that are left today. We will be ready for the Realtor tomorrow. And on Monday it is back to the mainland.

Usually I am very eager to go back as I miss my cats and my stash. But we barely got any rest at all this trip. I could spend another week here just relaxing and stitching. The main house finally has furniture and pictures from our old house. It is much more comfortable than it has been in the last year. And we won't be back here until the end of January. Maybe that trip will be more relaxing. ;-) On the mainland, it is back to travel, travel, travel. Los Angeles next weekend, and Boston December 7 - 9. We come back to host a CookieFest and Holiday Party in Nevada, then head to Lexington, Kentucky, for Christmas. January is CES in Las Vegas, MacWorld in San Francisco, a meeting in Los Angeles, followed by one in Las Vegas. THEN we can come back to Maui.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Friday Poll

Oh, don't know what an ort is? It's that small piece of thread left after stitching that is too small to reuse or too small to save for another project. If we ran to the garbage can with every ort, we would spend more time getting up and down than stitching. So they accumulate. In some large projects it is sometimes hard to see any progress, but the pile of orts grows and we know we have done something, even if it is not a very visible something.

As I was cleaning up the living room in preparation for the visit by our landscaper, I looked at my pile of orts. I've been collecting that pile for several visits here and it was somewhat impressive. But although I moved my stitching elsewhere for this afternoon, I couldn't really justify saving the orts any more. So they were thrown away. Then I wondered how long other people save their orts.

I know I have almost all the orts from my Pineapple Fish needlepoint. Since I stitched a lot of this while traveling, there was no one place to stash them and I couldn't just leave them hanging around a hotel room or my in-laws. So I have a Snack sized ziploc with most of the orts from this project inside. I even have a picture of my orts from a mostly blue project. I thought they looked photogenic. Other orts just stick around until I clean up my stitching area, which could be in a week or in a month. I rarely throw them out after a project is done, because I am often too eager to start the next project and just jump right from the last stitch of one design to the first stitch of the next design.

Thanks for reading and thanks for voting in the poll.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Off The Wagon I Have Fallen

At least the wagon wasn't very high and the fall wasn't too hard. Yes, I broke my stash fast by joining Chatelaine's Hawaiian Mandala group. But her chart will not even be published until December 1. Then Barbara of Mainely Stitching mentioned that Stitching Bits and Bobs was having a sale on threads. I'm too far away from my stash to check on my needed threads, but there are so many nice things on sale there that I had to grab a couple I have had my eye on for some time. First up is Long Dog's Time and Tide. I lusted after this several times when I was trying to decide whether or not to join the Snowbird's SAL. They are doing large monochrome pieces, so in the end I decided not to join, but I still was drawn to Time and Tide and Beauty Spotte (love that dodo!)

Of course, I needed Michael Powell's Christmas Window 2 to go with Christmas Window 1 that I just finished. More, more, MORE Michael Powell! Though the backstitching on this one looks almost sedate for Michael Powell. There may have been one or two other things that just slipped into the cart before I checked out, but I choose to ignore them for now.

This was a pretty good day. We got most of the cottage done in time for the 2 pm Realtor visit. I still haven't finished the master bedroom curtains, but they will be done by Saturday in time for the next Realtor. The living room and dining room look fabulous now that the rugs are down, the table is set and the ladder and tools are put away. Tomorrow, meetings with SecurityTech and our landscaper. We had a bit of a pool in our front yard during the last heavy rain. We need to discuss alternative drainage.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Usually I sleep well, but sometimes I have insomnia. Like last night. And this morning. I lay in bed for sometime last night, but I never even remotely felt sleepy. Eventually I got up. I thought I would go back to bed when James got up at 6:45 am for his photoshoot. But even then I was not sleepy. It took a warm bath and a dull book to finally put me to sleep at 8 am.

So instead of spending the entire day stitching, I slept this morning and spent the afternoon doing morning chores. I need to get an Ott light here, so I can stitch when the sun goes down. I tried to stitch some more leaves today , but when I got to a leaf near the small upper branch (all quarter cross stitches), I took a dozen stitches only to find that I was one thread over too far. I frogged the lot and gave up for today. I might get back to it this weekend.

Thank you all VERY MUCH for the kind comments so far. I know it's an odd thing to stitch for a Christmas gift, but my mother-in-law still comments on the Pat Summitt/Coca Cola pin I won for her on Ebay. She has collected Coke memorabilia for decades and Pat Summitt is her favorite basketball coach (woman's coach for the University of Tennessee). Gifts specific to the receiver can be hard to find, but so well received if you hit the right spot.

I think this is one time when NaBloPoMo has failed. Rather than posting something creative, I am just filling up space with words. I would never have posted so little progress if I wasn't posting every day. It's one of those days that if my head wasn't attached to my body, I would forget where I put it.

Tomorrow we interview our first Realtor at 2 pm. That means the cottage needs to be presentable by then. It's pretty close. I need to iron one set of curtains in the dining room and both sets of curtains in the master bedroom. Except for cleaning the bathrooms, the rest is done.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Invisible Leaves

I stitched three small leaves yesterday morning while my husband was taking a nap. I was so done with stitching gray that the opossum remains faceless for a while. The thread color on the leaves is so close to the fabric color that I was afraid that they wouldn't show up in the picture at all. As most of this design, it will look a lot sharper with backstitching.

My husband has a photo shoot tomorrow, so I will be at home without a car. Heaven. I hope to get a lot of stitching done.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another Room

This is the tractor shed. In an effort to stop construction on Maui, most of the island is designated "agricultural land". That means if you want to build a house, you have to have some agriculture. We have a palm farm. We are growing baby palm trees for landscaping. In three to five years we will dig them up and sell them, then plant more baby trees. Because agricultural land needs agricultural workers, you are also allowed to build a worker cottage of no more than 1000 square feet and a barn. This is a worker cottage. But because 1000 square feet is awfully small for a real house, most of the builders have added some additional lanais or garage area. One cottage we saw had 8000 square feet of garage. This space is officially part of the garage. The main garage has a beautiful picture window with an ocean view. But we are going to treat the garage like a real garage and this is a den, not a bedroom. A bedroom would be illegal.

So this room has a desk and a television. The television is probably a whole lot too big for this tractor shed, but it was the television we had in our old house. We had no place to put it in the new house. We like television, but if we have one at all, we have just one. The new house has a home theater room. We don't want a television in any other room. This room still needs an HDMI cable for the DVD player (on order, should arrive Friday) and some blinds (on order, will arrive after Thanksgiving. I don't know how we will get them installed).

We got a replacement curtain rod for the one that was dropped, but didn't do much else in the cottage. That means a whole lot of work tomorrow, but we will manage.

I did get some stitching done today. A few leaves were added. I should have pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Seven Things

This is not a good day to talk about the cottage. James dropped one of the living room curtain rods and broke the glass ball at the end. After yesterday I really don't want to whine about how much we have left to do. SO, I have decided to take this time to answer one of the frequent memes floating around the interwebs--seven things you might not know about me.
  • I lived in 26 places before I went to college. I was born in Illinois, near Chicago, and lived in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Ohio and St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, in multiple places in each of those states. Not military, my father was a forensic accountant and spent a time recreating the bookkeeping of companies that suffered fires and disasters (or arson and embezzlement).
  • In St. Croix I worked for the first mortician on the island. Before then they had to ship the bodies to the mainland or just use a pine box. I was the family au pair, but did spend some time in mortuary. I am not squeamish about dead bodies, but I almost flunked high school biology because I hated doing dissections. I got over all my squeamishness when I started raising cats and had to birth kittens and take care of abscesses.
  • I have a sister who raises Borzoi in North Carolina. She stopped speaking to me several years ago. I have no idea why, as she will not return email, postal mail, or phone calls. I'm sure she thinks she has a good reason.
  • I played flute from first grade through high school. I was second chair in the Connecticut state orchestra. I even got an invitation to join the Northwestern University marching band before they found out I was female -- no women allowed. I stopped playing in college and haven't taken it up again. If I started an instrument, it would be the piano. I had several years of lessons and even own one of those electronic keyboards, currently gathering dust in my sewing room.
  • I went to Northwestern University, majoring in Electrical Engineering, but switching to Computer Science in my junior year when they finally started an undergraduate Computer Science program. I was one of twelve women that started the Engineering program and the only one left after four years. I worked at the Vogelback Computer Center helping students with punch cards and simple programming. We had just one CRT.
  • We moved to Eugene, Oregon, so that my husband could finish his undergraduate degree. We had a blue and white VW van that we built out ourselves with a bed and refrigerator. We cut our own Christmas trees on BLM land. I worked for the Lane County Department of Transportation. My office was next to the road graders.
  • Although I read over a hundred books a year, I have absolutely no interest in writing fiction. I can craft a coherent sentence. I have learned to tell some good stories. Many of my friends are writers. But the once or twice I have tried to sit down and write fiction, the screen starts back at me and laughs at the pitiful few words I have crafted in an hour.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I wish we had more of the cottage done. I wish we had even one room done. Even this room still needs two pictures hung and the cellular shade hung (when it gets here). We worked very hard today and got a lot done, but not much photo worthy. We just got the futon cover yesterday and managed to get it on the bed (after I ironed it). We really like it as it is islandish without being tackily Hawaiian. This room is so small that we had a hard time deciding exactly what to put in it. Even a twin bed would take up almost all of the space. We finally settled on a full size futon. If the buyers have children, I think they would like this room. And if they don't have children, it would make a good stitching room. ;-)

Although this room doesn't have an ocean view, I still like the view out the window. The landscaping came out so well that this is a lovely view. As the plants fill in and trees get bigger it will get even better.

We got a lot of things half done. The master bedroom closet is closer to being done. One rod still needs to be hung. Most of the dishes are washed and put away in clean cupboards, but the kitchen still has lots of things on the counters. We started hanging the curtains in the dining room, but just got one rod placed. There are four more to do. Then I need to finish ironing the curtains. The traverse curtains in the Master Bedroom are going to take a lot of time to install. I'd be glad to get one of them done tomorrow. We still have a shelf to hang in the Master Bath and pictures to hang in almost every room. For only a thousand square feet, there seem to be things to do in every square foot. No stitching today and probably none until the cottage is done enough to show to Realtors.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Faceless Opossum

Twelve leaves, a bit of branch, the face and a border. That's what I have left of this pattern. I finished most of the opossum this morning. I should have the rest of the cross stitch done by next week. Then everything is backstitched.

Thank goodness for orts. I had exactly two quarter cross stitches in white for the eyes. But I had a bit of white in my ort pile and used that. I also have four quarter cross stitches in black, but I didn't mind cutting some thread for that since I will have a lot of backstitching to do in black.

We went over the pali again today. The futon cover was ready to pick up (only a month late) and we needed to return something that was broken in the package and get another one. James then wanted to check out his favorite statue place. They import carved marble and granite statues from Bali. He got three pieces this time. He won't be done until this place looks like Hearst castle. At least these statues are a lot, lot expensive than the ones Mr. Hearst bought.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Today’s SBQ is:

When you have to frog out stitches, do you reuse that thread or do you start over with a new strand?

I depends when I frog. Usually I frog directly after stitching. "Oh, no! One stitch too many! That should have been down and to the left, not down and to the right." Therefore the thread hasn't been in the fabric for more than a couple of minutes and is usually in good enough condition to just reuse. If I have left it in overnight before frogging, I will generally use a new thread. The old thread is now crimped in a dozen different directions and will never lay flat again. But if it is a specialty thread (silk, Rainbow Gallery, Kreinik), I will generally always use a new thread. Those threads are more fragile than cotton and fray coming out of the fabric.

We got a late start, but we did go over the pali -- Home Depot, Lowes, OfficeMax, KMart, the post office -- lots and lots of errands. The good news is that we found some curtains and curtain rods that we liked for the living/dining room. I'd say the cottage is done, except for the doing; putting up the curtains and rods, making the beds, hooking up the DVD player. It might be seem strange to most people to provide such mundane things such as a canopener or dishes, but we have to consider our market. We are competing with fully furnished condos. This is meant as a fully furnished vacation house. It's too small (1,000 square feet) for most families to live there permanently. Anyone who buys it wants to move in with just their clothes. They don't want to spend time at Macy*s hunting down bedding and glasses when they could be at the beach. They just want to move in. We probably could have sold our old house a year ago if had agreed to leave all our furniture in it.

NaBloPoMo has just reminded us that the first week of the challenge has passed. I have managed to post every day so far this month. I'm glad this November and not December. That is going to be a hard month for me to make even a dozen posts, much less 31. Here's congratulations to other bloggers who have met this daily challenge!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Half A 'Possum

And the back half at that. Of course, it is easier to stitch over 2 fur than it is all those quarter stitches for the eyes and ears. Especially quarter stitches in a color you use ONCE. This pattern really needs backstitching to perk it up. It still looks pretty grey and blah.

No, we did not go over the pali today. It was looking like rain, so we stayed home and got a bit more done on the cottage. The closet is done except for the rods. Tried the washing machine for the first time just to discover that the drain does not. The machine is fine, but the drain pipe must be partially clogged up. It drains for a bit, then overflows. Time to call the builder again. So shopping tomorrow and a concerted effort to finish everything on Friday and Saturday. The big jobs are hanging the curtain rods in the Master Bedroom and ironing all the bedding and curtains. Ugh!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Cottage

Since I don't stitch every day, there will be some posts this month that don't mention stitching. This is one of them.

This is the cottage on Maui that we are furnishing for sale. Yes, it is view of the back (garage, den, bath, second bedroom, master bath). But this way you can also see the awesome ocean view and a piece of Lanai. There will be more pictures when we finish more of the rooms. We did get our shipment of curtain rods from the mainland today, so we can finish the master bedroom this week.

I could have called this Web 2.0 day. I spent a lot of this morning adding books to LibraryThing and this afternoon adding a lot of reviews to In between we went grocery shopping, including Maui Prime Fine Foods. It's way, way up the hill across from the Safeway in an industrial area. I would have never found it without Google maps. Down the hill from the industrial section they are building a new shopping center. Hooray! We like more stores and more choices. I wonder what else will settle in there besides Barnes & Nobles? All that construction makes it look like Vegas.

Tomorrow is a trip over the pali. James wants to check out some statues and we need a few last bits for the cottage (like a canopener). We certainly have slowed down to Maui time!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Branching Out

I should have been working on the cottage today, but we are both still unmotivated, even with our day off yesterday. Instead I stitched the bottom bit of the birdfeeder and the rest of the right hand part of the branch.

I have a confession to make. I made several mistakes on the right hand side and I am not going to frog them out. The branches are one stitch too long and I started the bottom twig too far over. But I am just going to adjust the leaves and the border and finish it up. Yes, if it is a symmetrical design or things don't obviously line up, I will frog, but sometimes I just don't. No one but the designer will be able to tell.

We weren't completely lazy. We did spend some time at the cottage and got a bit more of the master bedroom closet installed. We just got to the part where we needed the electric drill and a better wrench to connect the washing machine hoses, so we came back up to the main house for today.

I finally broke down last night and created another LibraryThing userid so that I could enter the books in this house. I have been using LibraryThing to keep track of all the books I have been reading. This is important for when I need to talk about the Hugo awards at Loscon and Baycon. I'd like to keep all my other books on this site, but there is no easy way to keep one set of books separate from another set of books. They keep promising "collections", but it hasn't happened yet. So this is one way to keep my Maui books separate from my Reading List.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Grey Threads for a Grey Day

Last night we sat out on the lanai and watched the clouds light up over Oahu. They were having tremendous thunder and lightening storms, but we could hear no thunder and see no jagged lines of lightening, just bright lights illuminating the clouds like a flashlight inside a tent. It was supposed to rain on Maui, but instead we had some grey clouds, but no precipitation.

This morning it was finally drizzling. Hooray, we needed the rain (though I always feel sorry for the tourists who always expect sunny skies). Later it came down harder, much harder. The front lawn took on a lakelike appearance. The rain was great for me because I had taken a much needed day off. When you don't have a 9 to 5 job, there is no time off. I just wanted some time where I was not a travel agent, a chef, a web designer, a computer engineer, a decorator, a laundress, a supply chief, an engineer, or a librarian. So I spent the day stitching, reading, and shopping on the internet. After dinner we will finish watching the very last episode of The Dresden Files. That was a good show on the SciFi channel that got canceled after one season. I won the DVDs at Tim Goodman's Television Hootenanny.

I finished up the birdfeeder on this ornament and will move back to the branch, then the leaves, then the opossum itself. It seems to be working up fairly quickly so I should have this done before Thanksgiving. I might even start the chipmunk before we leave. But tomorrow it is back to work. We should finish installing the closet in the master bedroom of the closet. I should wash the new sheets we just bought and iron the bedding before making the bed in there. I should also wash the new dishes and pots and pans and put them all away in the cupboards.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

New Start for Christmas

No, this is not an umbrella or a propeller beanie. It's supposed to be the clear cover for a birdfeeder. That bit at the top is the branch it is hanging from. On top of the branch, one day, will be an opossum. I know that doesn't sound very Christmas-y, but my mother-in-law is crazy about American opossums (yeah, those things that look like a large rat). And I am going to make her an ornament of an opossum and one of a chipmunk (another of her favorite animals). I found it really, really hard to take this picture. I couldn't get the colors near what they look like in real life. I need to get a bit of white in the picture next time. When the whites show up as truly white (and the blacks are black), then the rest of the colors are balanced as best as they can be. Although this is the EXACT fabric called for in the design (28 count Wichelt linen in Dusty Green), it seems a lot darker than the pictured example. Maybe the backstitching will help the colors pop out of the fabric. Right now they seem to fade into the same color as the fabric.

I stitched the branch on the plane yesterday, but most of the rest of it was stitched yesterday afternoon. Today we spent most of the day out and about buying a few small things to finish decorating the cottage. Except for the curtains, I'd say we were about done.

The SBQ yesterday got me thinking about designing again. While I was reading a quilting blog, I saw an altered photograph and thought, "Bingo! I know what I am going to design." I even have a good idea of all the changes I can make to have a series, one design for every month. Now to see if I can actually design (and stitch) the first one before January. Just like non-writing writers, it's easy to come up with ideas, but it takes a lot of effort to put your fundament in the seat and create.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

This week’s SBQ was suggested by Ternezia and is:

If you were a cross stitch designer, what would your design style be?

This is a timely question for me, because I was just sketching out a few design possibilities. They wouldn't be samplers and they wouldn't be monochrome. :-) I've been thinking about a series of small items with a particular theme. They would not be large or complex because I really can't draw people and I'd want people to stitch them. I'd like them all in the same color family, but not using exactly identical threads. I'd start designing using DMC because I'd publish the designs as freebies. The hardest thing so far is deciding on the scale and size. They have to be big enough so that there is realistic detail and so that all the items could be finished to the same size. If I could actually get six or seven of these done, then I might consider a more complex design. I love designs with beautiful threads and beads, but I am not going to design something complex the first time around.

Now I will have to start getting serious about these designs! But right now I need to pack. We leave for the airport in an hour and then the long flight to Maui. I hope I can have a few days of just relaxing. I feel I have been working hard for a several months now without a break.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Michael Powell's Christmas Window FINISHED

Here it is. Finished. And it took less than an hour to complete. In fact, after I took the last stitch I kept looking around to see where I needed to stitch next. I was so close to the trees that I saw no forest at all. This is a bit too big for an ornament, so I will need to get this framed.

No, I did not sleep Tuesday night. I just stayed up until the taxi came at 4:45 am and even then I wasn't quite finished with all I needed to do . The plane to San Francisco was not too full and we left early. SFO was covered in fog. I always forget how cold it seems when the weather feels damp and clammy. My lack of sleep caught up with me, though, and I went right to sleep and didn't wake up until my husband came home from his doctor's appointment at 2 pm. I got up and got my hair done, had a lovely fish dinner, and came back to the city. Although I don't get to San Francisco as often as I used to, this is not a sightseeing visit. It is pretty much just a stopover to break up the travel from Las Vegas to Maui. Though as long as we are here, we are going to try a new San Francisco restaurant, Frisson.

Before I left, I did kit up the opossum and the chipmunk from the Cross Wings set of Feed the Hungry. My mother-in-law feeds several opossums and chipmunks every evening. I'm sure she will like these ornaments. So those are my next projects. I should have plenty of time to finish at least one of them in Maui. And you should hear all about them because I have joined National Blog Posting Month. Members vow to post on their blogs every day in November. I even created a Stitching Group. If anyone else is part of NaBloPoMo and stitches, please join us here.