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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from Julie 002

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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from Kristi 002

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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bookmarks

 

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.

Theresa's zine

 

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. I’ll come back and edit this post to add a link to part 2 HERE once it’s live.]

July 2018 Wrap-Up

July was a low-output month in terms of stitching, reading, and watching. More about that later in this post =).

NEEDLEWORK:

After my cross-stitching frustration last month, I took a several week break from stitching anything. A little past mid-July, I unkitted the cross-stitch projects I’d previously kitted up, organized my floss, and looked to see what I had in the way of ready-to-stitch embroidery projects. I found two unstitched Cozy Blue Stitch Club designs, so started on this one:

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I’m using some DMC variegated floss, and, thus far, am sticking with simple, basic stitches. I may embellish . . . or I may not. I’m only stitching once or twice a week for an hour here and an hour there, so it’s slow-going. But I’m enjoying it!

 

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

Detective Sarah Alt series (Trudy Nan Boyce) —  I love this series! I especially liked the writing in the first book, Out of the Blue. The third book, The Policeman’s Daughter, is actually a prequel, even though it was released third. I read it after the first two books and did wonder if I would recommend reading it first, or reading the series in publication order, as I did —- normally I would prefer to read the prequel first, but in this instance I liked knowing what I knew about the characters’ future when I read the prequel.

Three Sisters, Three Queens (Philippa Gregory) — This was in my “you might like…” list from the library. This book is part of the lengthy “The Plantagenet & Tudor Novels” series, for which I found this reading-order list online. I found the novel interesting, especially the author’s note at the end. I would enjoy reading all the novels in the series, but would prefer to do so in chronological order; it’ll be quite an undertaking because I typically don’t find historical fiction to be a quick read.

Of Mess and Moxie (Jen Hatmaker) — (non-fiction) While I didn’t find everything in this book applicable/relatable to my life, all in all I enjoyed the author’s writing voice and her essays.

 

TV SERIES:

Killing Eve (S1) — Yay for Sandra Oh being in a series again!!! Bring on S2! (watched via BBC On-Demand)

Riverdale (S1 & S2) — Lots of familiar faces of all ages, along with some new-to-me faces. So much drama! I get a kick out of this show, and am glad to hear it received an order for S3.

 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND HERE—>2 THINGS:

Weight Watchers — At the tail-end of June, I read something that, for me, was the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to not taking proper care of my health. Long story short: the next day I opted to attend my local Weight Watchers, and I’ve been going strong on the program ever since.

This is not my first attempt at W.W., not by a long shot, but this time I discovered the plan has been revamped in a way I’m finding to be very positive. No more weighing or measuring or counting points for fruits, veggies, eggs, skinless chicken/turkey breast, fish, shellfish, legumes, lentils, or nonfat plain yogurt. Granted, portion sizes are still important, but not having to count points for the aforementioned healthy foods is very freeing and also results in me gravitating towards more of those items when hungry. More options in the form of zero-points foods equals less instances of being hungry (or hangry!). If I’m hungry it’s not because I’m out of points, it’s because I’m not getting off my behind and getting myself a snack or meal in a timely manner :P.

For me, the change in foods I eat actually isn’t that big; rather, I’ve cut waaaaay back on non-fruit sweets, I’m not defaulting to pasta/starchy foods out of laziness, and I’m eating better-balanced meals. But I’m not eating foods I’d rather not eat (beef, poultry), and I am still eating within the confines of which foods won’t trigger health flare-ups of one type or another (which means I’m still limited on which veggies/fruits/legumes/nuts/condiments I can eat, and anything containing vinegar, citric acid, MSG, sulfites, or nitrates is a big ole no-no). Prepared foods, prepackaged foods, and restaurant foods remain problematic for me health-wise and will trigger all kinds of no-fun flare-ups, but not being a regular consumer of those types of foods actually works in my favor for W.W. because I rarely am in the position of using my points for those types of items.

My cravings for sweets have diminished considerably, and my “eat the feelings/stress” moments are much farther-and-fewer between.  Progress, not perfection!! =)

I also rejoined the gym because, as my husband said, we’ll gladly pay $11/month to walk indoors in the air conditioning!! (The summer heat seems particularly brutal this year.) I’ve been enjoying the treadmill quite a lot . . . I just prop my Kindle on the treadmill and read and walk undisturbed for an hour =D. I’ve also been easing into some strength-training with dumbbells at home.

I’m very happy with the weight loss I’ve had thus far and with the health improvements I’m already noticing. My body, on the whole, is easier to move around. I can bend over and tie my shoes without it being uncomfortable. I had a decent stretch of weeks without health issue flare-ups, which isn’t something I’d experienced for a very long time prior to last month. I’ve not had brain fog AT ALL in the past five weeks, not even when the outdoor mold count was sky high and my ears and sinuses were verrrry cranky as a result…….still no brain fog —- I can’t describe how amazing that’s been!! I can walk on the treadmill for an hour and not be out of breath. I’m starting to see and feel the muscles in my legs and arms again, which makes me all kinds of happy!!

W.W. has a fantastic app now, which I’m loving. It’s used for tracking your food/points, but also has an expansive community comprised of members and leaders, which I find to be as important for my continued success as anything else I’m doing (including attending weekly local meetings, which are important to me). Any time of day or evening when I find myself needing a boost of motivation to keep on keepin’ on with developing better health habits, I pop over to the W.W. app and read posts by other members.

The gym, preparing meals for myself, and being in the W.W. Connect community are taking chunks of time that I used to spend stitching/reading/watching tv, so that’s why there aren’t much of any of those things in my July recap. I’m also making an effort to move more when I’m at home, instead of defaulting to sitting down. Closets and cabinets have been cleaned out and organized, and the fridge has been cleaned more thoroughly than it’s ever been cleaned :P. Don’t get me wrong, I can still park my rump on the couch and not move for a while(!!), but I’m trying to do less of that ;-).

(By the way, I’m purposely NOT mentioning numbers related to weight. I may mention these numbers when I reach my goal . . . or I may not. I prefer to use the number on the scale as just one of many tools in this journey — it’s not the be-all-to-end-all — so I’m not making it a focal point at this time.)

 

Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps — This is the other new thing that’s going on . . . my hubby and I are hard-core in debt-elimination mode. Interestingly, taking control of personal health and taking control of financial health have A LOT in common!! Being of an age where we see the financial and health struggles with which older loved ones are dealing has made us take a hard look at where we are . . . and think about where we want to be 10, 20, and (if we’re so lucky!) 30+ years down the road. I read Total Money Makeover, and watched 1 of the Financial Peace University dvds (which was the only one our library had), and I’ve gotten lots of good ideas from the #debtfreecommunity on Instagram. As with Weight Watchers, community support is positive and extremely motivating in the debt-free community.

 

FAVORITE SNAPSHOTS THIS MONTH:

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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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5-6-2018 WIPs

Already I’ve changed my mind about just posting monthly :P. Maybe weekly-ish WIP updates, yes? Yes!!

NOT-SO-MINI SANTA — This is a larger version of the cute Mini Santa freebie pattern by CozyBlue Handmade that I finished in tiny hoops as gifts last Christmas. This Santa is about 4″ in diameter. I’m taking my time and experimenting with different ways of fill-stitching. I’m using chain-stitch (3 strands) for the hat (using Corinne’s (SoSeptember) gorgeously-stitched version of her Mr. Rogers pattern as inspiration for beautiful, textural fill-stitching). French knots (3 strands) for his beard. Straight stitches (2 strands) for his nose. Since the finished piece looks best with no fabric showing beyond the edge of the design, instead of looking for a 4″ hoop, I’m thinking about finishing this as a round ornament of some sort. It would be a good opportunity to dust off my sewing machine and, since I’m not in a rush to get this finished, have a go at some finishing options…possibly using Vonna’s shaped-ornament-finishing tutorial.

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“STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER” — This chart was gifted to me by a friend who had an extra copy of the chart. Yesterday I picked up the DMC floss options called for in the chart, along with some “Lite Oatmeal” 14-ct Fiddler’s Aida — I love the texture of this Aida, and it has a slight color variation, almost as it would look if it’d been ever so lightly tea- or coffee-dyed. I’m going to try stitching in hand using the sewing method on this one, and I learned from my abandoned Dachshund Book-Ends project that 3 strands of floss, rather than 2, are better on this Aida if I don’t want a lot of the fabric showing through.

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CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS ON SILVER PERFORATED PAPER — I’d picked up this silver perforated paper several months ago, with no specific pattern in mind for it. I’m going to look through my Just Cross Stitch “Christmas Ornaments” dvd and find a small project or two to stitch up on this paper. As with my embroidery project above, this is a good time of year to experiment with different holiday-themed projects, when I’m not rushing myself to have something ready as a gift :P. We don’t have a local LNS, and neither of our local craft stores carry Mill Hill beads, but I do have some beads left over from finished Mill Hill kits and I can dip into those if I want to use them for dimension.

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April 2018 Wrap-Up

NEEDLEWORK & OTHER CRAFTS: 1 cross-stitch FFO; a set of needleminders for myself; 1 abandoned embroidery project; 1 abandoned cross-stitch project

Mill Hill “Holiday Stamp” beaded cross-stitch kit — A quickie stitch for this month. I added felt and an eye pin to the back of the project so it can hang from our Christmas tree. My only quibble is I don’t like how the eye and mustache turned out — he’s supposed to be in profile, but I couldn’t quite get that effect. Hopefully that won’t be so noticeable when this is nestled into Christmas tree branches!

04-2018 mill hill postmark santa

Needleminders — I made these after watching Stitcherista’s needleminder tutorial. These all came from the charms/jewelry section of Hobby Lobby. I purchased a couple sets of THESE rare earth magnets (there are 3 sizes included, and I used all 3 sizes). These were SO fun to make!!

04-2018 Needleminders for Me

Cozy Blue Stitch Club: March 2018 Embroidery Kit [frogged and abandoned for now] — I stitched everything except the leaves and just was not enjoying the project, so I frogged it all and packed the kit away for another day :P. I love this dark fabric, and I love the flosses Liz chose for the kit. The sticking point for me seems to be that I really need to use 1 strand of floss for certain parts of the design, and I just flat-out don’t like using 1 strand of floss for needlework. The result is beautiful, but it’s hard on my eyes and fingers to work with 1 strand. This picture is from the first night I stitched on the design. I went on and completed all the yellow, red, and blue parts, and then decided to frog it all :P. I’ll pick it back up another day, probably sooner than later, and will try some other types of stitches, using more strands of floss.

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Dachshund Cross-Stitch Bookends [abandoned for now] — This design is from Cross-Stitcher magazine, June 2015. I’m stitching it on 14-ct Fiddler’s Aida, using 2 strands of DMC. This piece is my guinea-pig project for practicing stitching in hand AND for practicing the sewing method (rather than stab-stitching), and I’m liking both well enough to want to make both my go-to choices for cross-stitching. I finished stitching the pup’s head but am not liking how much fabric shows through when using 2 strands of floss, so I’ve set it aside for now. If I pick it up at a later date, I’ll use 3 strands of floss.

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HAUL:  3 books; 1 cross-stitch pattern received as a gift; 1 cross-stitch kit purchased from eBay

Needlework Books — We no longer have a bookstore or fabric store in our city, so when my husband and I took a day trip to a bigger city in April we stopped by JoAnn Fabrics and I was delighted to discover they had several shelves of crafting books, including lots of embroidery and cross-stitch books. (We also stopped by a bookstore, but, sadly, they had zero-zip-zilch-nada books for embroidery or cross-stitch.) Below are the needlework books I scored, along with the Fox blank journal I now use as my Books-Read log. I love all three of the needlework books, but What Delilah Did‘s “Secret Garden Embroidery” book is, by far, my favorite because she’s interwoven a charming tale throughout the book.

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“Strawberry Fields Forever” by Blackbird Designs — This was gifted to me via a giveaway by a friend who had two copies of the chart. For my eyes’ sake, I’ll be stitching this on 14-ct Aida; for my wallet’s sake, I’ll be using DMC rather than fancy floss. I’m planning to start stitching this in May.

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“Earth Gatherers” by Shepherd’s Bush — I saw this finished cross-stitch on Leslie Hurley’s flosstube and fell in love with it. I obtained the chart and embellishments packet by way of eBay, and will stitch the design on 14-ct Aida using DMC floss. I’m not sure if I’ll start on it in May or if I’ll wait until I finish Strawberry Fields Forever…..I tend to be a monogamous stitcher, but S.F.F. is a bigger chart than I usually stitch…..so we’ll see if I remain a monogamous stitcher or if I have multiple WIPs by the time end of May rolls around :D.

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FLOSSTUBE (new-to-me channels):

  • AmyLovesToads
  • Jen’sStitchingNiche
  • KittenStitcher  –  This is one of the most positive flosstubes I’ve come across, and I’m always happy to see a new Theresa video showing up in my subscriptions. As a newbie to needlework samplers, I’ve been enjoying learning about samplers from watching Theresa’s videos and delving into some of the samplers’ books she’s mentioned. I’m also enjoying her tutorials.
  • LeslieHurley
  • SuzyReno
  • (nail art, not flosstube) Kelli Marissa

 

BOOKS:

2018 April - Books Read

 

TV SERIES I WATCHED IN FULL (or to the current season):

  • LOST — I’m partway through the last season, so will probably finish the series in May.
  • The Five
  • Big Dreams, Small Spaces (netflix) — This British series is just as much of a feel-good watch as the Great British Bake-Off. Most of the yards/gardens featured in this series are small or downright tiny, and I enjoyed seeing how the spaces were maximized.

 

MOVIES:

 

PODCASTS:  I used to listen to these, but lost track of them when I replaced my computer. They’re now back in my regular rotation.

 

COOKED & BAKED (new-to-me recipes):

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FAVORITE SNAPSHOTS BY ME:

Daisy

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