Monday, February 23, 2009

Good Progress

This weekend was the monthly Stitch-A-Thon. As repetitive as this was to stitch with only a few colors, I decided to stick with it and get as much done as I could. I'm glad to have finished all the tinsel-ly bits. Especially since towards the end I was very much afraid that I was going to run out of tinsel. I could probably color match the cotton threads, but not the bloody tinsel. I have tons of Kreinick and Rainbow Gallery, but nothing else looks like this stuff. As it was I had exactly one length left after stitching the last silver crosses. Whew! I could hardly write the designer in France to get me some more if I had run out. Now I can definitely see the end of this, which would give me a Finish for February and one thing to check off my 2009 Goals list. The count is large enough that I might even be able to finish this off on the plane flight to the mainland tomorrow.

Yes, today is our last day in Maui until probably April. I can't say that we got a lot done in this house, but some of the Guest Room closet has been installed. The landscaping that we planted last year is finally starting to fill in. This is a Red Ginger. We have a hedge of it planted at the end of the driveway near the house. It is incredibly cheerful and hardy. Since this is Winter (even if warmer than most of the mainland), the Hula Girl hibiscuses are not in bloom. There are lots of various greens in the yard, but not much color right now. We are also growing palm trees for the residental and commercial market. Some of them are over ten feet tall. I can see that we will have to harvest them by the end of the year.

But mostly my mind is turning to the projects that are back in Nevada. I'd like to keep organizing my sewing room and maybe actually sew something. I also need to make some progress on stitching Hawaiian Mandala. And I need to turn my pitiful web skills on updating our foundation site. It is really, really ugly. That, and getting ready for the foundation exhibition in California at the end of March, should keep me busy next month. Hope everyone had a great weekend and are re-energized for the week ahead.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UFOs

I remembered putting this design away because of all the silver tinsel that needed to be stitched, but there is probably not just one reason that a project becomes a UFO. The first thing that I noticed when I opened the project jacket is that the needle that came with the kit must be size 22 EXTRA HUGE. Since I have been using Size 26 Petites for almost a year now on every project, this needle looked as big as a crochet hook. Did I really stitch with this? Then I took a look at the Q-snaps. I had the project on 11 inch square Q-snaps, but they were holding the fabric in place by the bare edges. Why didn't I use smaller Q-snaps?

And last, but not least, this is a very thin and loose linen which was slipping badly in the Q-snaps. When I substituted the 8" by 11" Q-snaps that I was using for Three Gables and added strips of some unknown red fabric under the Q-snaps, all of a sudden the fabric is now taunt and the stitching is much easier. There still remains one minor problem. Essentially this design only has four colors. Right now I am only stitching silver or ecru until I finish the top of the ribbon and can continue on with more wreath. There are only a dozen or so red berries left to do, so they will probably be added last. I will keep stitching on this tonight, but I might be moving on to something else tomorrow.

Of course, tomorrow I should be assembling and installing the closet shelves for the guest room. Although we have had this house in Maui for almost two years now, we spend just a few weeks here at a time. That means that some of the time is spent just catching up on needed projects (why is the movie projector without power? Oh, first buy a taller ladder to reach the attic access hole in the office closet. Then climb in the attic and remove the broken surge protector. Measure the office windows for blinds, then order them, even though we won't get them before we leave again. Ah, a project for the next trip.) And some of the time is just spent looking at the sunset. It's sometimes hard to be productive when the sun is shining or the hot tub beckons. When you never have an actual weekend or a real vacation, some days just slip away.

Our major project over the last week isn't even in Maui. Since we hired Bob Sherman as our architect for our new house in Nevada just over a week ago, he has been a working fiend. Almost every morning we have new drawings for the house. Amazingly enough, except for one small inharmonious corner, we have probably done the major room layouts. This is incredibly fast work. Of course it helps that we knew exactly what rooms we wanted and he saw the rooms we have now. It was more a matter of getting them all fitted onto the lot, than deciding if we wanted an extra bedroom or a library.

If I want to get anything done here in Maui, I better get more active tomorrow. We leave again for the mainland on Tuesday. We can probably be back again in April, but nothing is settled yet.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

10,000 Hours

I just finished reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Although far from accurate or scientific, it does have a lot of interesting stories and propositions. One measure that he uses for success is 10,000 hours, the amount of time it takes a human being to master a complex task such as a musical instrument, acting, or any job requiring expertise. I'm sure some of you have spent 10,000 hours (about 20 hours a week for ten years) stitching. It is obvious that I haven't reached that level yet. To be conservative I have probably spent about five hours a week stitching over the last two years (520 hours), plus maybe another 500 hours in the years before I started blogging and stitching regularly. Now if I had spent 10,000 hours I would know that I made rules for stitching on airplanes for very good reasons and would follow those rules. The first rule of stitching on airplanes is to never take any work smaller than 28 count (Three Gables is stitched on 30 count). The second rule is not to take any project with predominantly dark colors. I meant to bring a smaller dimension and lower count project on the flight from the mainland and Maui on Tuesday, but I didn't. We were so busy finishing up the first pass on the foundation entries (over 1,000 images) that I barely had time to pack. So I just grabbed up what was closest to hand and left. I tried to stitch the interior frame of the second window and got the thread so tangled that I had to cut it completely out. So I tried to stitch on part of the main gable, but had eye strain before finishing the first thread. With the window shades down the plane was dark!

Once we landed in Maui we have been working through the normal chores that one has in a house; getting repairmen in to fix things (I hope the electrician will call us back) and working on projects (like window coverings) that we meant to finish during the last trip here. We have ordered a new bedroom set for the master bedroom and will put the old bedroom set in the guest room, which is currently home to some very odd odds and ends. It would be good to get the closet in the guest room installed this trip. Eventually we will have Guests and right now the closet is the Big Empty. Guests shouldn't have to pile their things on the floor.

Meanwhile, remember that I was just grabbing projects and shoving them in the suitcase? Well, one project that I grabbed was French Noel by Rouge du Rhin, a kit I picked up in Paris. You might not have seen this project before. I started it in 2000, but set it aside shortly after I started. The white ribbon is bordered by a silver metallic thread. The thread from the kit is actually silver ribbon backed by an awful plastic thread. I started stitching this with the plastic thread and silver ribbon together. It was much easier to strip the plastic thread off the ribbon and just stitch the silver strip. But even with this the silver threads twists. Still this is a small project and I would really like to see it finished this trip. I even bought a daylight light from Home Depot yesterday while my husband was buying a ladder, so I can finally stitch in the evenings here without losing my eyesight. I hope everyone else is having a restful and/or productive weekend. I'm going to go stitch!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Now With Chimneys!

And a lot more roof. After a very tiring week, I spent several relaxing hours last night working on this project. I like these medium sized projects. I won't get it done in one sitting, but I will get it done this year. But there is a lot more WDW Bark to do on the gable and house. I might skip around and do more doors and windows just so I don't have to stitch the same color for weeks at a time.

Most of this week has been spent with architects. We interviewed the last Las Vegas architect on Wednesday and flew down the San Francisco architect for all day meetings here on Thursday. Although we have interviewed a lot of Las Vegas architects, none of them seemed to have the vision and passion that we were looking for until we met Bob Sherman on Wednesday. Although we have worked with our San Francisco architect before, it was obvious when he was here that it would be difficult for him to understand the building requirements and subcontractors that he would be working with here. Tomorrow Bob is going to come by and see this house, which does have features that we love. All of this is very exciting, but it has also meant that we have kept the house pretty much spotless for over ten days. Now that is exhausting. In our copious spare time we are judging entries for our art foundation. There are some really talented artists there along with some people who entered, but who will probably never become an artist. I know we have projects that we need to tend to when we are in Maui next week, but I hope we will get some relaxing time, too. Today we will work on the foundation and listen to the rain falling on the roof. It sounds like Pachinko!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Addicted to Lists?

Instructions:
  1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
  2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
  3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
  4. Optional extra: Post a comment here linking to your results.
The Omnivore's Hundred 90/100
  1. Venison and elk and moose and okapi
  2. Nettle tea
  3. Huevos rancheros though I'd rather not
  4. Steak tartare though carppaccio is better
  5. Crocodile pretty easy to find in Florida
  6. Black pudding
  7. Cheese fondue need a lot of wine for this. Hate swiss cheese.
  8. Carp and catfish
  9. Borscht both vegetarian and not, YUM.
  10. Baba ghanoush imam bayildi is a better use of eggplant.
  11. Calamari sometimes tasty, often the consistency of rubber erasers. I remain skeptical.
  12. Pho There are better soups.
  13. PB&J sandwich though I prefer PB & honey (with or without bananas and bacon)
  14. Aloo gobi always have this at our local Indian buffet. I love cauliflower.
  15. Hot dog from a street cart only in Chicago.
  16. Epoisses yes, but I'd rather not. The French version of ripe cheese is several weeks beyond what my taste favors.
  17. Black truffle Love it. Black truffle oil is also good. Best on rice or pasta (white truffle, too).
  18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes Poire Williams (pear) and Framboise (raspberry) and apple wine and whatever fruit you have, even true dandilion wine.
  19. Steamed pork buns used to eat these at the Oakland As ballpark.
  20. Pistachio ice cream one of my husband's favorites
  21. Heirloom tomatoes buy them whenever they are available.
  22. Fresh wild berries used to pick blueberries for breakfast in Pennsylvannia, but the best are Oregon raspberries fresh off the vine.
  23. Foie gras can I have some every day?
  24. Rice and beans a family staple
  25. Brawn, or head cheese as long as I don't have to look at it too closely
  26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper once, OK. Everyone is stupid once.
  27. Dulce de leche meh
  28. Oysters once or twice under protest
  29. Baklava had some this weekend
  30. Bagna cauda made some once. It was OK.
  31. Wasabi peas I like wasabi peanuts better.
  32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl often
  33. Salted lassi my husband likes sweet lassi. I don't like much yogurt all at once.
  34. Sauerkraut who hasn't eaten sauerkraut?
  35. Root beer float Red Robin's IBC version isn't too bad. Grew up on A&W.
  36. Cognac with a fat cigar haven't smoked in years, never smoked cigars, do Sobraine's (black Russian cigarettes) count?
  37. Clotted cream tea the only way to eat High Tea. Have even had a decent one on British Midlands airlines (quel suprise!)
  38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O brings back old, old memories
  39. Gumbo whenever I can find a good one
  40. Oxtail have cooked it, but veal shanks are better
  41. Curried goat our local Indian buffet always has this.
  42. Whole insects maybe I've eaten an ant by mistake, but NEVER on purpose
  43. Phaal maybe, since I've eaten a lot of Indian food, but maybe not, since I prefer northern Indian cuisine
  44. Goat’s milk and goat cheese, and goat's milk yogurt and goat's milk ricotta
  45. Malt whiskey from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more probably, but not definitely. The Scots were pouring, we were drinking, we weren't checking the price tag. The house single malt is Glenmorangie/Port Wine.
  46. Fugu I like fish. I like sushi. But I am not crazy.
  47. Chicken tikka masala hard to miss this if you like Indian food at all.
  48. Eel LOVE, love, love eel, especially in New Zealand and on sushi.
  49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts so? Way, way too sweet.
  50. Sea urchin have, won't again if I can help it.
  51. Prickly pear raw, chopped, but rather have it as jelly.
  52. Umeboshi meh
  53. Abalone So we were at this Malibu restaurant for Thanksgiving because I had a real jones for turkey. As we sat perusing the menu, the table next to us complained mightily about the dry turkey and the awful stuffing. We ordered the abalone.
  54. Paneer yes, I love Indian food
  55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal but I can't remember the last time I had it. A decade ago?
  56. Spaetzle we used to eat this all the time. I even tried to make some, then went back to buying Maggi brand.
  57. Dirty gin martini only if it is Tanqueray gin.
  58. Beer above 8% ABV yup, some of our homebrew friends can get there as do the Belgians.
  59. Poutine odd, but edible. We will be in Montreal again in August.
  60. Carob chips not if I can help it.
  61. S’mores I was a Girl Scout.
  62. Sweetbreads my huband's favorite. He had them at Carnevino last week.
  63. Kaolin
  64. Currywurst I'll eat almost anykind of wurst.
  65. Durian nope, not interested.
  66. Frogs’ legs again, a favorite of my husband.
  67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake all of the above. Like Beignets best.
  68. Haggis had my first haggis in Gleneagles, Scotland after the piping in of the whisky.
  69. Fried plantain if you have ever had Cuban food, there was probably some plantain on the plate.
  70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
  71. Gazpacho I make a GREAT gazpacho, all hand chopped.
  72. Caviar and blini I like the blini and sour cream better than the caviar, but I do like tobiko.
  73. Louche absinthe served the proper way, over a sugar cube over ice, slightly cloudy. Loved the presentation. Not that fond of the flavor or liquorice flavor in general.
  74. Gjetost, or brunost another cheese tasted I can do without. Why isn't Crottin on this list?
  75. Roadkill NO. Simply no.
  76. Baijiu Don't like most saki's either.
  77. Hostess Fruit Pie can't guarantee I ever ate one. I did burn my tongue on a MacDonald's apple pie once.
  78. Snail Did I tell you about the lady at the next table who hid her black truffle in the snail shell? I should have grabbed it off her plate.
  79. Lapsang souchong it's my favorite tea
  80. Bellini I like anything with peaches; ice cream, pie, jam, meatloaf and yes I have a peach/rice meatloaf recipe
  81. Tom Yum in Singapore without the coconut milk that I am allergic to. I avoid most Thai dishes for fear of coconut.
  82. Eggs Benedict my husband's favorite, especially with crab. I will eat it if I can avoid the egg part. Love hollandaise and muffins.
  83. Pocky I don't really understand the attraction.
  84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant Taillevent, Michel Richard, Alinea
  85. Kobe beef also Waygu
  86. Hare with mustard sauce.
  87. Goulash eat it, make it, it's wonderful.
  88. Flowers but I don't see the point.
  89. Horse in France.
  90. Criollo chocolate had to look this one up because I am not a chocoholic, but I have eaten Richart chocolate, so that it always Criollo.
  91. Spam I live in Hawaii part time. Of course I eat Spam. Like it fried from Sam's.
  92. Soft shell crab ONLY in Baltimore and environs.
  93. Rose harissa
  94. Catfish my husband is more of a fan than I am.
  95. Mole poblano especially mole poblano chicken enchiladas
  96. Bagel and lox better than eggs!
  97. Lobster Thermidor
  98. Polenta too easy, but I do like mine fried.
  99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee I don't drink coffee
  100. Snake tastes like chicken.

Yes, I am a foodie and have over 700 cookbooks.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Second Blogoversary

The only part of this that I stitched at the meeting on Saturday was the bird. He's missing his beak and won't get one for quite a while. The only other places in this design that that color is used is on the beaks of the two other birds and on a broomstick in the far right hand corner. I finished the first small gable last night and started on the second small gable this morning. The main gable is only about a quarter done. I am still enjoying stitching this, but I am starting to look towards next week. We will be flying to Maui for two weeks on Tuesday. I'll need a smaller project for the plane and something to stitch at the house. I could take this or I could take one of my other WiPs. I might take something else just so I don't get tired of this one. There is a lot of repetitious roof and gable that needs to be stitched next. I'll probably keep working on Three Gables until I leave.

This weekend was full of science fiction fandom. First the meeting (and Greek dinner) in Los Angeles on Saturday. The board I belong to ran the World Science Fiction Convention in 2006 in Anaheim, but doesn't have a lot of ambition at the moment. Our next meeting isn't until October. Which doesn't mean that most of us aren't working on conventions, just not through the SCIFI board. On Sunday we had dinner with the bid chairman of the Seattle in 2011 committee and her husband. We talked about fan politics and strategy and generally had a great time eating tasty BBQ at one of our favorite restaurants.

Today starts my third year blogging. I have had a fabulous time and met a ton of fabulous people. So this morning I took out three envelopes to get ready for a Blogoversary Give Away. If you would like to participate, please go to Trade for a Sheep, where I have posted some stash. If you see something you would like, go to the About Me button at the top of the blog and find my EMAIL address on the About page. Email me what item you would like me to send you with your snail mail address and I will get the first three requests in the mail this week. I hope that everyone in the blogosphere will have a wonderful February. Spring is just around the corner!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lists, More Lists

In the spirit of posting more than a half dozen times this month, I thought I would start off with this meme. Yes, I did stitch a very little bit on Three Gables at the meeting yesterday. Pictures tomorrow on my second Blogoversary.

Things you’ve already done: bold

Things you want to do: italicize

Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. started your own blog

2. slept under the stars

3. played in a (marching) band (Flute, Piccolo)
4. visited Hawaii
5. watched a meteor shower
6. given more than you can afford to charity
7. been to Disneyland (I hope this counts, because I have no interest in going to Disneyworld)
8. climbed a mountain (for small values of mountain)
9. held a praying mantis
10. sang a solo (Mother Superior, Sound of Music)
11. bungee jumped
12. visited Paris
13. watched a lightning storm at sea
14. taught yourself an art from scratch
15. adopted a child
16. had food poisoning
17. walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. grown your own vegetables
19. seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. slept on an overnight train (several times in New Zealand)
21. had a pillow fight
22. hitch hiked (all the time in college. I didn't learn to drive until I was 23 and married)
23. taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. built a snow fort
25. held a lamb
26. gone skinny dipping
27. run a marathon
28. ridden a gondola in Venice (been to Venice, going again this year, does riding a lot of vaporettos count? No interest in riding an expensive canoe that close to some pretty disgusting water. Log flume rides are more fun. Maybe I could ride a gondola at the Venetian hotel here in Vegas.)
29. seen a total eclipse (both of sun and moon)
30. watched a sunrise or sunset
31. hit a home run
32. been on a cruise
33. seen Niagara Falls in person
34. visited the birthplace of your ancestors (England and France, but not Czechoslovakia)
35. seen an Amish community
36. taught yourself a language (oh, man, am I bad at foreign languages. I have a little French, but that's as far as I am planning to go.)
37. had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. seen the leaning tower of Pisa in person -- I might see it sometime, but it's not a goal.
39. gone rock climbing
40. seen Michelangelo’s David in person
41. sung karaoke
42. seen Old Faithful (geyser) erupt
43. bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. visited Africa
45. walked on a beach by moonlight
46. been transported in an ambulance
47. had your portrait painted
48. gone deep sea fishing
49. seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. been to the top of the Eiffel tower in Paris
51. gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. kissed in the rain
53. played in the mud
54. gone to a drive-in theater
55. been in a movie (on television a few times, have friends in the business)
56. visited the Great Wall of China (though we might go this summer)
57. started a business (as long as you count a business with no intent to make a profit)
58. taken a martial arts class
59. visited Russia
60. served at a soup kitchen
61. sold Girl Scout cookies
62. gone whale watching (as an adjunct to snorkeling, not just to see whales. Have seen plenty of whales from our house in Hawaii.)
63. gotten flowers for no reason
64. donated blood
65. gone sky diving
66. visited a Nazi concentration camp
67. bounced a check
68. flown in a helicopter love them, love them, love them!!! I'd love to have a pilot's license, but my eyes are way, way too bad.
69. saved a favorite childhood toy
70. visited the Lincoln memorial
71. eaten caviar
72. pieced a quilt
73. stood in Times Square
74. toured the Everglades My husband worked there when we were first engaged.
75. been fired from a job
76. seen the changing of the guard in London. Love London, but don't need to stand around in a huge crowd to see this.
77. broken a bone
78. been on a speeding motorcycle
79. seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. published a book
81. visited the Vatican
82. bought a brand new car
83. walked in Jerusalem
84. had your picture in the newspaper
85. read the entire bible
86. visited the White House
87. killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. had chickenpox
89. saved someone’s life
90. sat on a jury
91. met someone famous a couple of Presidents, congresscritters and lots of best selling authors.
92. joined a book club
93. lost a loved one
94. had a baby
95. seen the Alamo in person
96. taken a road trip Too many to count over lots of the US and Europe.
97. been involved in a law suit
98. owned a cell phone
99. been stung by a bee
100. met the love of your life

I've had a great life. There really isn't too much that I want to do that I haven't done, except build a house from the ground up and I am working on that now.