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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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.

05-2018 4-inch Mini Santa (Cozy Blue) 001

(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.

to-stitch spreadsheet 001

to-stitch spreadsheet 002

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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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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Jan. thru Mar. 2018 Happenings (other than needlework/crafting)

My plan is to do once-a-month blog posts, recapping what I’ve made, what I’ve read, and other happenings from that month. This post recaps Jan. thru Mar. 2018 happenings, other than needlework/crafting which I already posted about HERE.

BOOKS:  (I use THIS coptic-bound journal by Studio Oh.) The Neil Gaiman books were in audiobook format because…Neil Gaiman’s voice! He is such a fantastic storyteller.

2018 Jan thru Mar - Books Read

 

FLOSSTUBE:

 

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

 

PODCASTS (oldies but goodies):

 

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

 

OUTINGS:

 

FAVORITE SNAPSHOTS BY ME:

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