February 2019 Wrap Up

NEEDLEWORK PROJECTS:

Dimensions Felt Applique Kit “Friendly Llama” — This kit was so much fun and I think Miss Llama is cute as can be.

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She’s residing on the door of our book cabinet, where I can easily see her while watching tv/stitching/reading.

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WIP: 2019 Calendar Panel by September House — I’ve made some progress since last month, but I didn’t get the panel finished. It’s a busy time for me right now, at work and at home, and will continue to be through March, so I’ve been doing very little stitching…and when I do stitch, I’ve gravitated towards projects which lean more towards being no-brainers. Not that this is a hard project to stitch, but I’m being thoughtful about my stitch choices and I may opt to add beads or buttons, so it’s not really a “no-brainer” project.

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WIP: Dimensions Love Snow Globe Ornament Kit — I’m enjoying the heck out of stitching this. The 14-ct plastic canvas is super easy for my eyes and is comfortable to hold while stitching, and the way the kitmaker carded the floss is one of the best I’ve seen from a kit. I’ll probably look for more kits like this.

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NEEDLEWORK PURCHASES: Namaste Embroidery recently had a 3-for-the-price-of-2 sale on her mini kits, which include a pattern plus the design preprinted on fabric. I’ve had her animal patterns on my “one of these days” wishlist for a while, so pulled the trigger on purchasing the hedgehog, the giraffe, and the red panda during the sale. I’ve never done thread painting before and am excited about having a go at stitching these cute critters. Jessica’s YouTube channel includes a video tutorial showing how she stitched the hedgehog.

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RE-HOMED NEEDLEWORK/PATTERNS: One of my goals this year is to be realistic about which of the cross-stitch patterns I’ll probably stitch, and to re-home the patterns I don’t think I’ll stitch. I’m surprised by how much I like the plastic canvas in one of my current WIPs and have decided I will, going forward, use plastic canvas, perforated paper, and larger-holed cross-stitch fabric, all of which are easier on my eyes, and if I think a design will be done a disservice by being stitched on one of these options then I will re-home the design.

I decided to re-home Strawberry Fields Forever by Blackbird Designs. It’s a beautiful design, but it’s one that, to me, would lose some of its beauty on one of my fabric options. The pattern was a gift from a friend who had two copies of it, so I sent this pattern along to another of her friends who had expressed an interest in it.

I also re-homed the Mirabilia “Fairy Moon” UFO I’d won in Michelle BendyStitch’s fundraising auction last fall. The fabric was just too difficult for my vision, so I sent the UFO, pattern, and beads back to Michelle to re-auction in a future fundraiser.

 

BOOKS READ:

Look Alive Twenty-Five (Janet Evanovich) — The newest book in the Stephanie Plum series. Not my favorite of this series, but nevertheless there were laugh-outloud moments.

“A” is for Alibi (Sue Grafton) — The first book in the Kinsey Millhone series. I initially read the first several books in this series years and years ago, but it’s been plenty long enough that I didn’t remember any of the story. I’m getting a kick out of these stories being set back in the 1980’s…lots of neat flashbacks to my teens and early 20’s, and I very much like the absence of cellphones, computers, and the internet.

“B” is for Burglar (Sue Grafton) — see above

The Wondering Years (Knox McCoy) — The Popcast is one of my must-listen podcasts each week, and when this ebook came up for sale on Kindle I snatched it up. It was a delightful read. If I were an audiobook person, I think this is a book which would be best read in audiobook format.

My Oxford Year (Julia Whelan) — I enjoyed this but it did take a bit of a serious turn which wasn’t quite what I was looking for when I started reading the book, but it didn’t bother me enough to quit reading ;-). I think this story would translate well to the screen.

 

BOOKS PURCHASED: This year I’m choosing to purchase more books and use the library less. I’ll primarily purchase in e-format since physical storage is a bit trickier for me, and also because I prefer to read on my Kindle than hardback/paperback; however, there are certain types of books I prefer to read in hardback/softcover, and I’ll let go of other books to make room for them.

I used my Christmas-gift money to purchase in hardback/softcover a handful of needlework books and non-fiction books. Of course I immediately flipped through all the needlework books and I love them all!

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I’m also making use of the Kindle Daily Deals and Kindle eBook Credits to build up my unread ebook library. I only keep unread books and my current read on my Kindle, to help keep my Kindle manageable; once read, a book gets removed immediately. (Have I mentioned I don’t like clutter?!!)  These are my Kindle purchases for February. The Sarah Maas books are a series for which I’ve already read the first three books, but I’m now rereading those so I can then read the newest book in the series. I went ahead and bought the series since it’s one I enjoy rereading. I also opted to buy Michelle Obama’s book; I’d listened to the first third of it on audio during a trip in January, but I didn’t travel in February and won’t in March and I didn’t want to wait until April or May to finish the book, so I used my Kindle eBook Credits to purchase it on Kindle.

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OTHER PURCHASES OF INTEREST:

Elise Cripe is one of my favorite Instagrammers. I like how she approaches setting goals and trying new things, and I enjoy her 100 Days projects each year. She recently had a 40% off sale on her 100 Pep Talks book, so I purchased it, along with the perpetual calendar notepad (for personal use) and the project breakdown notepad (for work use). I have so many projects going on at work right now that I think the project breakdown notepad will be helpful in getting the mass of To-Do’s out of my head and onto paper so I won’t feel quite so like I’m barely treading water at work. I’ve tried various apps and online project management systems in the past, but when it comes down to it I’m just a pen-and-paper kind of gal and I need to be able to SEE what all is outstanding and needs to be worked on.

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TV SERIES & MOVIES:

A Quiet Place — This was SO. GOOD.!!! I’m not typically one for scary movies, but I’d heard such good things about this one, and Emily Blunt is one of my favorite actresses, so I bought this and made sure to watch it during the daytime :P.  I enjoyed having a movie capture my attention enough that I gave it 100% of my attention…no stitching, no dusting, no otherwise puttering around while the movie was on.

Reign — I’m still working my way through this series on Netflix. I’m continuously amazed by the costuming and would love to see the needlework and details up close.

 

FAVORITE PICTURES THIS MONTH:

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January 2019 Wrap-Up

NEEDLEWORK:

In January, I FFO’d two projects I’d stitched in 2018.

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The cardinal is from September House’s “Holiday Birds” pattern set. I had intended to stitch up the 3-bird set during November/December, but only managed to get the cardinal stitched. I love the design and enjoyed stitching it. I used a red Sharpie to color the hoop’s front and sides.

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The Santa is the CozyBlue Handmade “Many Mini Santas” freebie I stitched up last May. I had enlarged the pattern to fit into a 4″ hoop, which I found to be easier stitching for my non-slender, non-nimble fingers than the mini-size pattern :P.  The 4″ size made for a lot of French knots, but I love stitching French knots so I didn’t mind! I red-Sharpied this hoop, as well.

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Mill Hill “Happy Camper” — This was the last of the Mill Hill kits I had in my stash, and I stitched it up as a just-because gift for my sweetie <3.

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This is my favorite of the Mill Hill kits I’ve stitched thus far. The camper, the night sky, and the moon button are my favorite parts. I found this kit to be one of the easier ones and I love the colors. The red beads on the camper and the bronze-ish beads on the ground are so pretty when the sunlight hits them. I backed the ornament with a forest-green felt, which seemed appropriate for the theme!

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Although my husband and I never camped in this style of trailer, this still conjures up wonderful memories of the different times we’ve gone camping over the years, from when we were dating, to when we were newlyweds, to the various times we took our sons with us.

 

WIP: 2019 Calendar Panel by September House — I snagged a calendar panel, in the gray (DMC 414) colorway, right before Corinne sold out of them.

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I opted to first backstitch all of the outlining, using 3 strands of DMC 414 (gray). Now I’m working on the fill-stitching. Thus far I’m using DMC 3801 (coral), 744 (yellow), and 597 (blue). I’ve not been able to find a green in my flossbox that seems to work well with these colors; any suggestions?

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I haven’t decided yet which stitch I want to use for the very outer border of the rectangle’s frame — I think French knots would be pretty and would lend additional texture, but I’ll make that decision after I finish everything inside the frame.

Floresita is sharing her own progress on her calendar panel on Feeling Stitchy blog’s Project a Month feature for Jan. 2019, as well as on the Feeling Stitchyish Instagram. Her stitchwork is gorgeous, and her up-close photos show the details of her stitches beautifully. For even more stitchy inspiration for the 2019 calendar panel, check out the “septemberhouse” hashtag on Instagram. (I’m not affiliated with September House or Feeling Stitchy, but I am a fan of both!)

 

PURCHASES: I picked up a couple easy-peasy felt applique kits and a pair of ready-to-embroider pillowcases at Walmart when I visited my dad earlier this month, with the intent for them to be projects I can leave at his house and work on when I’m visiting him.

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I like having needlework to do when he and I are watching tv in the evenings and chatting, but I don’t want the needlework to require too much effort or thought on my part. These three projects are all plenty easy (the embroidery holes on the felt applique kits are even pre-poked!! see photo below), and I can embellish the projects as much or as little as I want.

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I did bring all 3 kits home with me, so it’s very possible they’ll be worked on here instead of being travel-only projects ;-).

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BOOKS:

the Throne of Glass series (Sarah J. Maas) — At the end of last year, I’d finished my re-read of the first three books of this 8-book series (I’m counting the book of novellas, which were prequels, as book #1). This month I finished rereading books 4 thru 7, and I’m currently savoring my first read-through of book 8, which is the final book of the series. I love this series so, SO much…..in fact, it lands squarely at the top of my list of favorite series. I’ll be having the post-book/series-ending blues pretty hard when I finish this book!!

Becoming (Michelle Obama) — (audiobook) I had been on the (oh-so-long) Hold list for this audiobook from our library. In a case of “the timing couldn’t have been better”, it became available for download the day before I was to travel back home from visiting my dad. I have a challenging time staying focused on audiobooks but hoped being in the car for six hours might help my train-of-thought not drift away from the book. I’m happy to say my attention did not drift one bit!! In fact, I didn’t listen to anything else on my drive besides this book….I started it when I left my dad’s driveway and stopped it when I pulled into my own driveway. Mrs. Obama is a fantastic narrator and storyteller. I still have two-thirds of the book left to go; I’m at the point in the book where Michelle and Barack are getting serious about each other, so I know there are many more interesting stories to come! I knew I wouldn’t finish listening to the audiobook before it’s due date, so I returned it to the library and will finish out the book when I next travel.

 

TV SERIES & MOVIES:

Mansfield Park (1999 version) — I loved this! I left it in my queue for re-watching while stitching =D.

Vanity Fair (2018 mini-series) — This one tickled my funny bone, and is another one I’ll enjoy re-watching while stitching.

Mission Impossible: Fallout — My husband and I enjoy these movies, and they make for fun re-watches. We liked this one better than the last couple ones.

Casablanca — My dad has an extensive dvd collection and asked if I’d seen this movie. I had not, so we watched it one evening. I have a hard time watching movies in black-and-white, but I stitched and listened and that worked out well!

Reign — This is my current go-to when I’m stitching and don’t want to watch Flosstube. Reign is so very stereotypical CW Network, filled with pretty people and all the drama, but I find it entertaining and I love love LOVE the costuming!! Megan Follows as Queen Catherine is a DELIGHT(!!)……I just love her as her character. (Sidenote: I’ve never seen Anne of Green Gables and had no idea Megan Follows was THAT Anne!)

 

2019 GOALS UPDATE:  (“2019 Goals” post is HERE)

For my “Progress, Not Perfection” Goals #1 thru #3:

#1 – Groom Dogs Regularly — I didn’t do this as often as I would have liked. I’ll see how it goes during February and will then reassess if or as needed.

#2 – Floss Daily — This one’s just not happening, and I think I would do better if I tied it, along with brushing my teeth at night, to another habit. Since the hurdle seems to be that I stay up too late at night (that’s a whole ‘nother issue!), resulting in my being so-very-tired when it’s time to brush my teeth and get into bed, I’m going to see if it works better for me to brush and floss my teeth right after I feed the dogs in the evening. I’m not typically a late-night snacker, so there’s no reason to wait until bedtime to brush and floss.

#3 – Do Something That Requires Movement — Overall, I’m doing well with this one!! Keep in mind that I’m not talking specifically about “exercise” or “fitness” when I say “movement”. My goal is simply to not sit on my butt all day for work AND all evening after work. Some days I’m busy and moving around a lot, other days are more sedentary, and some days I crawl into bed right after work and read all evening. All in all, though, I’m happy with how I did on this goal in January.

For my two hobby-related goals:

#4 – ReadingMy general reading goal for 2019 is to not hurry to finish one book just to get to the next book or to achieve a certain number of books-read. I got rid of my To-Read lists, as well as most of the books on my library Holds list, and it felt So. Good.!! When I finish one book, then I’ll either grab an unread book I already have or I’ll poke around a few blogs or IGs for ideas for my next read. I am loving this reading goal and anticipate it’ll be an easy one to follow through with the remainder of this year.

I had two January-specific reading challenges: (a) no new buying or new borrowing, and (b) pick any unread book off my shelf and finish it by 1/31 or get rid of it.

(a)  When my name came up on the Holds list for Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming,” I did opt to go ahead and check it out. If I had not been out of town and facing a long drive home, I would’ve bumped the book on to the next person in line. But since I knew I could listen to a chunk of it during my drive, I opted to go ahead and check it out. This is the only book I borrowed this month, and I did not buy any books. I felt a bit of pressure about trying to hurry up and finish the audiobook before it’s due next week, but then decided I will get the book through Audible before I travel again, which took away the low-level anxiety I felt about trying to get the book finished before next week.

(b)  The unread book off my (Kindle) shelf is the book I’m currently reading, Kingdom of Ash, the last book in the Throne of Glass series. This is a series I will re-read repeatedly, so I have no interest in getting rid of it.

The February-specific challenge is to read a book gifted to me or get rid of it. I don’t have any books which were gifted specifically to me, but there is one book which was gifted to both my husband and me back in 2006: “Fort Concho and the Texas Frontier”, by J. Evetts Haley, with an introduction by Elmer Kelton. This is not a genre I’d normally read, but I’m game to give it a try. (We have several of Mr. Kelton’s books, which is why this book was gifted to us.) If it ends up not holding my attention, it stays on the bookshelf because (a) it was a couple’s gift, and (b) it’s inscribed specifically to my husband and me by the author and also includes Mr.Kelton’s signature.

The month-specific challenges are by way of the #unreadshelfproject2019.

#5 – Needlework

~ Finish my last Mill Hill kit; stitch up the 2019 Calendar Panel:  Check, and check! I finished the Mill Hill kit, and I’m currently working on the 2019 Calendar Panel.

~ Convert patterns I already own into applique+embroidery projects:  Not yet. I currently have an embroidery project I’m working on and I’m not in the market yet for another WIP. I tend to be a monogamous stitcher and don’t usually think about the next project while I’m still working on the current project.

~ See if there are any cross-stitch kits or hard copies of patterns I want to let go of: Sort of. I’m still on the fence about a couple items. I’ll revisit this goal again in February.

~ Be proactive about always having an embroidery and cross-stitch project ready to pick up and work on:  The embroidery project I’ve been working on is easy to pick up and stitch at a moment’s notice. I also have the two new felt applique kits that are good pick-up-and-stitch projects. I’m just not feeling the cross-stitch love right now, so don’t have a cross-stitch project that’s in “pick up and go” status.

~ No new purchases or patterns, other than what comes in magazines to which I already subscribe:  Whoops!! 😛  The two felt applique kits and the pillowcase embroidery kit are purchases I made this month. I’m opting to ditch this goal, because I do love to have small kits and projects at-hand for when I want to start something new and don’t want to have to kit it up myself. I know what my storage limitations are for stash, which helps keep me thoughtful about what I purchase, so I feel comfortable eliminating this item from my goals.

 

FAVORITE PICS:  It’s all about the plants!! I don’t have the greenest of thumbs, but I’m making an effort to add some greenery into our home.

This trio of plants were each in tiny 2″-size pots — so cute!! The nursery at which I bought these had a good assortment of tiny potted plants. If the nursery has more of these set-of-3 pots when I’m back there next time, I’ll pick up another one or two of them along with a variety of plants to go in them.

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This plant was a Christmas gift, but I don’t know what kind of plant it is. It was full of flowers, which I cut off after they died. There are actually three plants in the one container, so I’ll either put them in a large pot together or split them between three smaller pots.

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This is part of a Pothos Ivy we’ve had for quite a long time. I like this white pot a lot, so bought two of them and split the ivy between them.

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I love the leaves on these Neanthe plants! I didn’t buy any Neanthes this trip, but will pick up one or two if the nursery still has them when I’m there again.

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The Kangaroo Paw plants would be for outside. In reading the care label, they do seem like plants that would do okay in our environment, and I love that they’re good for attracting hummingbirds. We do have hummingbirds visit our hummingbird feeders regularly at certain times of the year; these plants would be a tasty and pretty addition.

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We’ve had a mild winter thus far, so wandering through the nursery and seeing all the pretty outdoor plants sure gave me the itch to get the Spring plants and flowers going. However, we have a couple more months before we pass our last frost date, so I will be patient and wait to begin purchasing new things to plant.

Happy stitching and reading!!

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.]

 

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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