Mid-September thru December 2018 Wrap Up: part 1 of 2 (needlework)

Well. The last quarter of 2018 was a doozy for my family. On my side of the family, a stepparent passed away, less than two weeks afterwards another parent (the spouse of the stepparent who passed away) had a stroke, and then right after Thanksgiving a grandparent went to the ER with an intestinal bug at which time it was also discovered they have serious heart-health issues. So there has been grief, stress, and a general sense for all involved that none of us were ready for any of this (as if anyone ever really is). But, seeing how Life is multi-faceted, there have been some positive things which have come out of the scary and dark things. I’m so very grateful for the strength and love and kindness my family has provided to each other, and for the strength, love, and kindness I’ve received from friends. My husband has been my rock — I can be strong, knowing he is there for me to lean on when I don’t feel strong, and knowing he will take what he can off my shoulders.

For the latter part of my 2018, there was only a minimal amount of needlework/crafting that happened, and my reading took a sharp turn towards the S-L-O-W end of the spectrum. I watched a lot of Hallmark holiday movies and Flosstube, and did a lot of perusing of Instagram.

NEEDLEWORK:

Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful — This was an inexpensive applique + embroidery Bucilla kit I picked up at Hobby Lobby, as something easy to work on at the hospital.

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I used the threads and pre-cut craft felt that came with the kit. I used 6 strands of floss for all of the stitching, and the words are couched with 6 strands.

 

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Because I opted to couch and to also use 6 strands for everything, I did run out of the pink and blue floss. Even though they weren’t DMC, I was able to match them pretty closely with DMC.

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I have the finished project hanging from a metal heart I’d picked up earlier in the year at Michael’s.

I enjoyed this kit a lot!! More so than I thought I would. I loved using the felt (and didn’t mind that it’s inexpensive craft felt), and am thinking about converting some embroidery and/or punch-needle patterns I already own to be applique + embroidery projects.

 

WIP: Antique Scissors & Spools — This is a Theresa Venette pattern which I purchased in PDF format from her website. I’m stitching it using Belle Soie “Cinnamon Stick” floss on 14-ct Aida that I tea- and coffee-dyed. (more info below about this floss)

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WIP: Mill Hill “Happy Camper” — This was another “take it with me” kit I worked on while out of town. I’m just about done with the cross-stitching, then will do the beading (which I didn’t want to start on until I was back home).

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GIFTS RECEIVED:

I received two fabulous embroideries from Kittykill (Pam), who has been my embroidery color-tinting inspiration for over a decade now, from back when I first came across her needlework on Craftster in 2007/2008.

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Aren’t they adorable?!!!  Since our walls are a light, neutral color, to help the designs better stand out against our walls I used wood-colored Sharpies to “stain” the outside of the hoops and I added ribbon around the top edge of each hoop.

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It was a wonderful surprise to return home shortly before Christmas to find happy mail in the form of stitched ornaments!! The sled ornament was a gift from Tracy, and the Santa ornament was a gift from Kristi. I love both ornaments!! The sled and pattern can be found on 123Stitch, and Kristi said she found the Santa wooden blank and pattern as a kit at Joann.

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My dad found the cute cross-stitch kit below at a local discount store and bought the kit for me. I  may end up stitching her on the sparkly Aida (see “Purchases” below) and I’ll definitely swap out the floss colors. The sentiment is pretty dead-on ;-).

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PURCHASES:

Back in September, I purchased some fabulous loot by way of Michelle BendyStitchy‘s fundraiser for the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimers. I scored dyed Aida, various patterns, silk floss, and a couple already-stitched items.

This Aida is so sparkly, and it’s a huge piece of fabric! If my eyes give me trouble with the 16-ct, I’ll just stitch over 2.

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These Belle Soie silks are sooooo lush and have such a wonderful feel to them. I’ve started a project with the brown (“Cinnamon Stick”) floss on some Aida I coffee- and tea-dyed myself. I’ve not gotten far on that project, but will hopefully have a few more stitches in by my end-of-January update.

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Below are the 4 patterns I won. I will likely change the colors on the Nora Corbett pattern to better fit my own preferences. For the hummingbird pattern, I’ll crop that design to just include the feeder, the couple of birds right around the feeder, and the flowers immediately surrounding the feeder. Having said that, if I think I can convert the hummingbird pattern to embroidery rather than cross-stitch, I’ll do so — I think it’d be pretty as an embroidery, with lots of options for creating texture. For the 2 patterns in the second photo, if I end up keeping the patterns then I’ll probably just pull out little bits of them to stitch rather than stitching the complete charts.

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I love having needlework stitched by others! The Santa was stitched by Michelle “bendystitchy”, and the girl was stitched by Theresa “kittenstitcher”.

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I did a bit more stash-building via Michelle’s charity auctions on her Instagram page and also via her Instagram de-stash account.

This Mirabilia “Fairy Moon” UFO is, by far, my favorite acquisition!! This UFO had been found IN A GARAGE SALE…a garage sale, people!! It appears all the cross-stitching has been done, as has some of the beading.

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My lighting is blowing out the color. If you have a minute, though, you can see this Mira in all her gorgeousness on Michelle’s Flosstube #82 at the 1hr 4min mark (or go HERE). So much sparkly beauty!!

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Michelle was kind enough to purchase the needed beads so the project can be finished. Completing this Mira is on my needlework To-Do list for 2019. (Now, if I find my eyes just cannot do the beading, then I’ll pass this along to someone else.)

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Below are the final two items I purchased from Michelle. I’d like to convert The Bead Fairy to a specifically-Christmas color scheme, and I may stitch the Santa ornament on silver perforated paper (which I already have) instead of the included plastic canvas.

 

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2019 Calendar Embroidery Kit from September House — I had stitched some of Corinne’s calendar panels up as gifts several years ago and enjoyed the process. This one is for me to keep and hang in my office =D.

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[Part 2 will recap the books I read, the things I watched, and a few other life goings-on. Find it HERE.]

 

August to mid-September 2018 Wrap-Up: part 1 of 2 (needlework)

I’m a wee bit behind on posting a wrap-up. There’s a lot to post, so I’m splitting it up into two posts.

NEEDLEWORK:

Cozy Blue Stitch Club — April 2018 pattern:  I finished this project, which I’d started in July.

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I used my own color choices (DMC 51, 90, 92, 107, 436, 3839, 3840), using all 6 strands for a chunkier look, and did a little bit of colored-pencil tinting. I was reminded while stitching this project that I’m not a fan of using plain backstitch; I did end up whipping some of the backstitched areas but not all of them. I used to love using stem stitch and outline stitch back when I was embroidering a lot, so will begin using those more often again. I do love how the fishbone stitch turned out, such a gorgeous stitch!

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This was relaxing to stitch on in-between cross-stitch projects. Embroidery goes so much faster for me than cross-stitch, but sometimes with embroidery my brain comes to a screeching halt about deciding which stitch to use next and which color to use next, and with cross-stitch that’s typically a non-issue. On the other hand, with embroidery I don’t have to count squares and I’m not as pokey of a stitcher. The two types of stitching are good counterbalances to each other for me =).

 

Ain’t No Party Like An Introvert Party by Stitchy Little Fox:  I stitched this up to keep for myself. This was a fun, easy project and it makes me smile when I look at it =D.

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Fabric:  Loops & Threads 14-ct “Oatmeal” Aida (purchased at Michael’s craft store); this Aida is a bit softer than the Charles Craft brand I find at Hobby Lobby. Thanks to Christine, aka Calico, for mentioning this brand of Aida on one of her Flosstube videos!

Floss:  DMC 310, 601, 906, 740, 3844, using 3 strands of each to get fuller coverage

I did add an apostrophe in front of “cause” since it’s short for “because”, and not having the apostrophe changes the meaning of the word — grammar nerds unite!! 😛  I didn’t worry about trying to adjust the spacing to fit in the apostrophe, I just smooshed it in there.

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I hooped it up on a plastic Yarnology hoop from Hobby Lobby — this was my first time to use one of those hoops and I love them so much more than wooden hoops! I laid the cross-stitch on top of a piece of white quilting cotton then hooped them up together. I like having a piece of fabric or felt on the back of the stitched piece, to provide opaqueness and to protect the stitchwork, and hooping up the quilting cotton with the Aida was quick and easy.

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I fairly often change up the way I finish off the back of my hoops. My current method is to fold over the quilting cotton to the back side, then use narrow double-sided adhesive tape to adhere the quilting cotton to the hoop, then another piece of tape to adhere the Aida to the quilting cotton. This is very easy, and I don’t make a mess of things like I do when using hot glue :P. Also, if I want to remove the project from the hoop and finish it a different way, it’ll be easy-peasy to disassemble.

 

Bob Ross by Good Morning Maui:  I stitched this up for a friend, and love it so much I’m going to stitch up one for myself!

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Fabric:  Loops & Threads 14-ct “Oatmeal” Aida

Floss:  the called-for DMC except I substituted 168 in place of 762; 3 strands of each to get fuller coverage, backstitched using 2 strands

I did opt to outline it in black and think it helps the design “pop” out from the fabric a bit better, especially the white part of the artist’s canvas.

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I put it in a plastic Yarnology hoop, with white quilting fabric behind the Aida, and finished it off the same way I did the “Introverts” piece above.

I first saw this pattern on Instagram, and the finishing was super cute — check it out HERE (be sure to swipe because there are multiple pictures).

 

GIFTS RECEIVED:

I received happy mail :::doing the Snoopy dance:::!!! First up is a beautifully-stitched, delicate monogram from my friend Julie — such teeny-tiny stitches!! The font and colors are so “me”, as are the sweet needleminders, which have already been put into use — I love using the fox for my embroidery needle, and the fan and book for my cross-stitch petite needle =).

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Then I received this fabulous scissor fob and lovely crocheted dishcloth from Kristi. I love the autumnal colors and how she matched the colors in the two items. Also, the charm on the scissor fob is a good daily reminder to let go of stress relating to not being able to Accomplish. All. The. Tasks. Today.

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I received lovely cards from various family and friends. I usually only keep cards for a week then let them go, but this year I’ve been reluctant to part with them. So I put a couple of them on our decorative window frame, and a couple others have been turned into bookmarks (because I can always use bookmarks!).

(The frame is hanging straight. The picture-taker (that would be me!) was standing on the couch cushions, which didn’t make for the most level of surfaces.) 

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PURCHASES:

Oh boy, it’s been purchase-palooza around here!!! Some of these were gifts, and others were purchased with gift money.

These 3 charts were from my my husband and son: (a) Lizzie Kate “Dog Lessons for People #143”, (b) Plum Street Samplers “Turkey Sausage”, and (c) Amy Bruecken Designs “I’m Sorry, Did My Eyes Roll Out Loud?”. I can’t wait to stitch these up!!

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I purchased Theresa V.’s (“KittenStitcher’) Issue One of her new digital zine, Samplers Yesterday & Today, which I enjoyed reading and which contained plenty of needlework eye candy.

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I resubscribed to Just Cross Stitch magazine (digital edition), and rejoined the Embroiders Guild of America (although as an at-large member rather than a local chapter).

Lastly, I purchased some fabulous loot by way of Michelle BendyStitchy‘s fundraiser for the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimers. I scored dyed Aida, patterns, silk floss, and a couple already-stitched items. It’ll be a fun box to open when it lands at my front door! Pictures will follow later this month or in October.

 

[Part 2 will recap the books I read, the things I watched, and a few other life goings-on. Part 2 is HERE.]

June 2018 Wrap-Up

NEEDLEWORK:

U.S. Sampler by Glory Bee — Finished and fully-finished.  I posted about it HERE.

 

After finishing the above project, I started Flag Maker by Notforgotten Farms, a freebie pattern I’d seen stitched by both Vonna Pfeiffer and Priscilla Blain.  I was stitching it on 28-ct. Irish Linen using 2 strands of the called-for DMC colors.  I loved the linen, but my eyesight struggled with the 28-ct. fabric. I worked on the piece for a couple weekends, but finally admitted defeat this past weekend and abandoned the project.

I’m not feeling the stitchy love at this particular moment, but that’s okay because I have other things on my plate right now that I’m enjoying. I do have a couple embroidery projects I’d like to stitch, as well as a couple cross-stitch projects that I just need to find a different fabric for (I’d planned to use the 28-ct. linen for them).

 

 

PURCHASES:

Punch Needle & Primitive Stitcher magazine — I opted for a digital subscription, which also provides access to the prior 4 issues. I’ve already put some of the patterns on my To-Stitch spreadsheet. (Although I don’t do punch needle, many of those patterns can function quite well as embroidery patterns, which is how I plan to use them!)

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Harvest Keeper by Plum Street Samplers — I love the colors and the design of this autumn-themed pattern. I purchased the pattern from Jen’s Stitching Niche; she was super speedy in getting the chart mailed.

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Antique Scissors & Spools by Theresa Venette — I purchased the PDF directly from Theresa’s website. There’s a lot of flexibility for fabric and floss colors for this one! I’m so glad Theresa’s working towards including more patterns in PDF format, as those work better for me when it comes to storage.

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BOOKS:  (These have been added to my “Books Read” page found HERE.)

The Bear and the Nightingale (Katherine Arden) — I think I would’ve preferred this in audio format. I liked it fine in print format, but it feels like a story that would be better if you could hear it being told.

The Sweet Life in Paris (David Lebovitz) — (non-fiction) Enjoyed this one.

Open Season by C.J. Box (Joe Pickett series) — This is the first novel in this series. I’m curious enough about the character to continue on with the series.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman — I loved this and it’ll definitely be one of my favorites for 2018. It’s the prequel to Practical Magic, which I’ve not yet read but I do have the book on hold and am looking forward to reading it. Now I’m delving into the author’s backlist.

l’appart: The Delights & Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz — (non-fiction) I liked reading this on the heels of The Sweet Life (mentioned above) and found it interesting and entertaining. I’ve always said I don’t ever want to do a renovation and, holy smoke, reading this reinforced my opinion!!

 

TV SERIES:

Poldark (S3) — I love me some Ross and Demelza!! Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson are fantastic as their characters; actually, the whole cast is fantastic. (watching via PBS Masterpiece, by way of Amazon Prime)

Unforgotten (S1 & S2) — I enjoyed this U.K. detective series; each season focuses on a different cold case.  Nicola Walker is in the category of I’ll watch whatever she’s in; love her. (watching via PBS Masterpiece, by way of Amazon Prime)

The Coroner (S1) — Another U.K. crime series I’m enjoying. (watching via Britbox, by way of Amazon Prime)

 

MOVIES:

The Post — A phenomenal cast telling a compelling story which is, unfortunately, currently relevant in many ways.

Ocean’s 8 — I wanted to be sure and catch this before it left the theater. It was fun, I loved all the actresses chosen for the main 8 characters, as well as James Corden in the role he played, and there were some wonderful cameos of actresses who’ve been out of the movie/tv spotlight (whether voluntarily or involuntarily) for far too long. Five of the eight main cast members were recently on an episode of the Graham Norton Show and it was a rollicking good time.

 

FAVORITE SNAPSHOTS THIS MONTH:

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The produce below is from the Farmer’s Market, not our own garden (which, sadly, had an early demise this year). I was so excited to find fresh eggs! We used to have chickens ourselves and got very spoiled to fresh eggs; I hope the egg vendor is able to return to the market throughout the summer.

Watermelon; Cantaloupe; Peaches; Strawberry Jam; Pear Jam

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Zucchini; Summer Squash; Green Apples; Cucumber

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Fresh Eggs!

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FFO: “U.S. Sampler” by Glory Bee (6-25-2018)

The pattern is “U.S. Sampler” by Glory Bee, found in the August 2012 issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine.

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Fabric:  14-ct. Fiddler’s Aida in “Lite Oatmeal” by Charles Craft

Floss:  The called-for DMC colors (except B5200 instead of White), using 3 strands to get full coverage. Colors: B5200, 221, 310, 729, 898, 930, 932, 945, 3778

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It needs to be blocked; you can see where the fabric got stretched out of shape below Sam’s shoes and above his hat; I stitched the whole thing in-hand and apparently had a death grip on the fabric in a couple places :P.   The wonky border bugs me a little, but not enough to delay fully-finishing the piece and displaying it =D.  The needlework is not permanently attached to the stickyboard; instead, it’s just lightly tacked down on the back with low-grip painter’s tape.  So if, at some point, I want to remove it and block it and/or finish it another way, it’ll be  easy to do so.  But we’re enjoying it as-is, displayed on the table under our tv!!  The fabric panel has magnets glued to the back (a la Priscilla Blain), so that I can easily remove this project from the tray and swap in another project.  (I picked up the tray for $2.99 at Hobby Lobby.)

So, the Aida . . . it was quite stiff, which made for some tough stitching in-hand, not helped by the fact that I didn’t cut off the excess fabric until after I’d finished stitching.  It got a bit unwieldy at times!  But I still preferred stitching in-hand as compared to using a hoop or q-snap.  I have no interest in going back to a hoop or q-snap for cross-stitch.  (I don’t anticipate stitching a piece so large that I would need a scroll frame. Been there, done that, not interested in doing it again!)

For the border (including the stars) and Sam, I used the sewing method, which I felt went okay until I needed to stitch the white stripes in the pants and the flag; some of the white stitches in those stripes are not pretty.  For comparison, I stab-stitched all of the letters and words, and I think the white stitches in “1776” look much better.

The purpose of stitching this piece (besides ending up with a finished project) was to experiment with stitching in-hand using the sewing method, and I did figure out some things I liked and didn’t like about it.  It’s definitely faster than stab-stitching, and I loved using it for stitching the brown “x”s in the border — having a space between each “x” allowed for quick stitching.  (I can see how using the sewing method while stitching 1-over-1 would go very fast.)  I used 3 strands on this piece, which was a lot of bulk in filled-in spaces, and I seemed to have less twisting and smooshing-up of floss when I stab-stitched.  (I’m currently stitching 2-over-2 on 28-ct. linen and am doing a hybrid of the sewing method and stab-stitching.)

All in all, this was a fun project! I’m enjoying stitching things for me to keep, as I’m more comfortable experimenting while stitching than I would be if I were making these things as gifts. Fully-finishing is not my favorite thing if I can’t pop something in a hoop 😛  but, again, these are good opportunities for me to try new things and practice finishing methods that don’t come as easy to me as popping something in a hoop =D.

 

May 2018 Wrap-Up

NEEDLEWORK:

Mini Santa (but not so mini!) — This is the same CozyBlue Handmade freebie “mini Santa” pattern I used to make mini-ornaments last Christmas. This time, however, I enlarged the pattern to 4″, to give myself more room to practice fill-stitching.

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(Once I FFO it and the fabric is taut, the straight-stitches on the face will lie flat.)

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Fabric: a tightly-woven, unbleached muslin from Hobby Lobby; it’s my favorite light-colored fabric for embroidery

Floss: DMC 321, 414, 798, B5200

Stitches: Hat = chain-stitch (3 strands 321 & B5200); Eyebrows = chain-stitch (2 strands 414, 2 rows stitched very tightly next to each other); Eyes = satin stitch (2 strands 798); Nose = straight stitch (2 strands 321); Cheeks = straight stitch (1 strand 321); Mouth = chain-stitch (2 strands 321, 1 row of stitches layered right on top of another); Beard = french knots…..sooooo many french knots!! 😛 (3 strands B5200)

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I’m going to finish it as a round ornament, but will wait until later this year when Christmas fabrics show up at Hobby Lobby.

 

U.S. Sampler by Glory Bee (Just Cross Stitch magazine, Aug. 2012 issue) — I’m loving stitching this little sampler, and I’m liking most of the called-for colors much more than I thought I would when I pulled them. I’ve gotten very comfortable stitching in-hand using the sewing method with this project, which was my hope. I do see some stitched areas that I’m not completely happy with, and I think it’s because in those areas the 3 strands of floss are bunching up rather than lying next to each other. It seems to be more of an issue where I’m stitching the white floss in-between the already-stitched red floss….the white looks like it’s been squeezed in. It may have worked better if I’d stitched each stripe in the pants and flag in order, rather than the red stripes first then the white. Food for thought! I’ll finish stitching and FFO’ing this sampler in June.

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Fabric: 14-ct. “Lite Oatmeal” Fiddler’s Aida (Charles Craft)

Floss: I’m using the called-for DMC colors (except B5200 instead of White), using 3 strands to get full coverage. Colors: B5200, 221, 310, 729, 898, 930, 932, 945, 3778

 

OTHER PROJECTS:

Needleminders — These were a gift for a friend’s birthday. I made them at the same time I made myself a bunch of needleminders last month. The Gilmore Girls needleminders were made from a set of pins, and the cat and teardrop-shaped needleminders were made from goodies from Hobby Lobby’s charms/jewelry section. I love love love the teardrop-shaped one…..it’s so beautiful in person, and extremely lightweight.

05-2018 Needleminders for Kristi

 

“To-Stitch” spreadsheet — I have a dvd containing Just Cross Stitch magazine’s Christmas Ornaments issues from 1997 thru 2013. It’s a great resource, but I found it impractical to sit at my computer and look through the digital issues whenever I wanted to start a new project. So I created an Excel spreadsheet listing the ornaments I want to stitch. I ended up with 78 patterns total from those 17 issues!

Then I decided to do the same thing for the digital copies I have of the regular JCS issues, and for the digital issues I have of Cross-Stitcher (UK) magazine.

I didn’t stop there! I also added tabs for the non-magazine/non-book cross-stitch and embroidery patterns I have in digital format. (I only have a couple patterns in hard-copy format, so indexing those is a non-issue right now.)

Below are snippets showing how I set up the section for the magazines, and the section I set up for embroidery.

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This has been a wonderfully-helpful project for me, and a fantastic resource!! At a quick glance, I can see: what I have in the way of seasonal and non-seasonal patterns; which patterns are small and quick-to-stitch; which patterns I’d like to make as gifts; which patterns I’d like to make for myself; which patterns I want to purchase fancy floss and/or dyed fabric for; and so on. I also rediscovered a lot of embroidery patterns I’d forgotten I had and which I want to stitch up.

 

PURCHASES:

DMC Color CardOrdered directly from DMC. I don’t know why I balked for so long about ordering this….it is so worth the $25!! (If the color card is out of stock, they do seem to restock it quickly.)  Side Note 5/2018: When I was at Hobby Lobby earlier this month, they had reset their DMC floss section to make room for the 35 new DMC colors. I assume online shops now have the new colors available, too, without them having to be purchased in the Collector’s Tin.

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28-ct Monaco & 28-ct Lugana — I picked these up while at Michael’s because I want to see if they’re more comfortable for stitching in hand. If, however, my eyes balk at the effort, I’ll be just fine with using 14-ct Aida for all my projects.

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BOOKS:  (These have been added to my “Books Read” page found HERE.)

A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)(Book of the Month Club 2017)  I loved this book so, so much. As of now, it’s at the top of my fiction favorites for 2018. This wasn’t a hurry-to-get-to-the-ending book for me; rather, it was one I luxuriated in taking my time reading. The language was a delight, I loved the characters, I liked how the passage of time was handled, and I had no quibbles at all with the ending. This would be an enjoyable reread. I have Mr. Towles’ book “Rules of Civility” on my “holds” list at the library; I’ve heard glowing reader-reviews about it, as well.

Big Cherry Holler (Adriana Trigiani) — This is the second book in the Big Stone Gap series. It deals with the complexities of marriage, as well as sorrow and loss and friendship and love. I enjoyed it quite a lot, and would enjoy it as a reread, as well. There are a third and fourth book, which I’ll likely get around to some time this year.

Unseen (Will Trent series) (Karin Slaughter) — This is part of a crime series; it’s not the first book, but it’s the first I’ve read of the series. I liked it enough that I’d like to go back to the start of the series. It has cross-over characters with the Grant County series below.

Blindsighted (Grant County series) (Karin Slaughter) — This is the first book in a series. I liked it enough that I’ll read more in the series.

One Dark Throne (Kendare Blake) — I read the first book in this fantasy series in March and liked it enough to want to continue on to this second book. Now I’m looking forward to the third book’s release.

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr (Frances Maynard) — I enjoyed this book about a young woman learning to navigate life in ways she’d always been told she couldn’t.

The Breakdown (B.A. Paris) — This is a thriller by a new-to-me author. So…..I figured out the reveals fairly early on in the book, but kept reading because I thought perhaps there would be a surprising twist at the end. But, nope. What I’d figured out is what ended up being the reveals towards the end of the book, so that was a bit of a bummer.

The Music Shop (Rachel Joyce) — (Book of the Month Club 2017)  I’m working my way through my remaining 2017 Book of the Month Club picks, and this is from that stack. Overall I enjoyed it, and I particularly loved the last several chapters and the ending. Also, the author made a playlist on Spotify (TheMusicShopPlaylist) containing the various songs referred to in the book, and I’m so glad she did!

Last year I did a 12-month subscription to Book of the Month Club. I chose the option of paying for a year in advance in order to bring down the overall cost per month. I don’t often read hard copies of books anymore because it’s so much easier for me to read on my Kindle (portable; lightweight; easy to read in a dark room at night without disturbing my spouse); as a result, my unread BOTMC selections stacked up over the course of the year. I chose to not renew my subscription after the twelve months because I still had so many of the Club books unread, but I did enjoy the subscription. I liked being presented with book options I perhaps would not have otherwise given a second glance, and choosing from just a handful of titles each month eliminated the “So. Many. Choices.” feeling that can be overwhelming when you’re at the library or bookstore, whether they be brick-and-mortar or online. Also, it was nice to actually have hard copies of books readily at-hand! As much as I use my Kindle for convenience purposes, I do miss reading hardback copies of books. And as much as I prefer to keep Stuff-n-Things on the minimalist end of the spectrum, being able to go to my bookshelf and have a dozen or so unread books from which to choose…..well, I’ve enjoyed that. I thought the BOTMC 12-months-in-advance subscription cost was quite reasonable, and may opt to reactivate my account once I’ve finished my unread Club picks from last year.

 

TV SERIES:

LOST (series rewatch)– I stopped with two episodes left and waited for my husband to catch up, which he’s now done, and we’ll watch the last two episodes together. There have been both happy tears and sad tears on my part throughout the series, particularly during the last season. It’d been so long since I first watched LOST that I’d only remembered a smattering of plots and storylines (as well as the very end) before I started my rewatch, which worked out for the best for my enjoyment of the rewatch. I enjoyed it so much more than my original viewing of the series. My perspective on how the show wraps up is different this time around (in a good way), and I appreciate the entire series in a vastly different way than when it originally aired. I loved many of this show’s characters, and am sad about parting with them. (watching via Hulu)

For the People — I’m enjoying this new series quite a lot. I typically enjoy lawyer/courtroom-types of shows, and I’m liking the characters and stories on this one thus far. (watching via Hulu)

Grey’s Anatomy — I don’t watch Grey’s regularly, and it’s not uncommon for me to miss a couple seasons before I go back to it, but I do still enjoy the series quite a lot and I always go back to it. This month I finished S13 and nearly finished S14, and I’ll probably begin watching weekly again once S15 comes out. I’ve enjoyed the journey this series has taken over the years; I like the diversity of the cast; I like that there are lots of female leads; I like the importance sisterhood is given; and I like the character of Meredith without Derek. I know a couple of the main female leads will not be around next season, so I’m interested to see which other characters are brought to the forefront.  (watched/watching via Netflix for older seasons and Hulu for S14)

Escape to the Country (S18) — I watched an older season on Netflix last year and fell in love with the series: no one’s complaining about not enough/not big enough closets; no one’s complaining about counters not being granite or marble; no one’s complaining about appliances not being stainless steel; and actually, there is very little happening in the way of complaining, period. The scenery is gorrrrgeous — the rain and humidity required to sustain such greenness would make me crazy, but the green green green landscape and the lush English gardens sure are lovely to look at on my tv screen! (watching via Britbox, by way of Amazon Prime)

We added Britbox and PBS/Masterpiece to our Amazon Prime service this month, so I’m looking forward to delving into shows on both channels.

 

COOKED & BAKED (new-to-me recipes):  I got the itch to tinker around with different options for doctoring up a cake mix. I’m not quite sure why I got this particular itch because, other than pound cake and coffee cake, I’m not a big fan of cake! But I scratched the itch and made two attempts, and now I’m done :P.

Attempt 1:  I used info from one of the posts on CakeCentral,which called for: 1 box Duncan Hines cake mix + 4 large eggs + 1 stick of butter (melted) + 1 C whole milk + 1 T vanilla. Stir all together, then beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. I found that I had to cook this 10-15 minutes longer than the directions on the box, likely because of the additional egg and the added vanilla. The cake was moist and noticeably more dense than a typical box mix, which is what the result was supposed to be. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the texture, but for people who like a more dense texture for cakes then this would fit the bill.

Attempt 2:  Using the above attempt, I used: 1 box Duncan Hines cake mix + 3 large eggs + 1/3 C butter melted) + 1 C whole milk + 1/2 T vanilla. I extended the baking time by about 5 minutes. I like the texture of this one much better, as it’s more like a typical box-mix cake. However, the outer edges of the cake got a little dry because of the added cooking time needed to get the middle of the cake completely cooked. I don’t think the substitutions of butter for oil and milk for water or the addition of vanilla made a noticeable difference in the taste.

 

FAVORITE PICS THIS MONTH:

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