Tuesday, January 24, 2012

TUSAL and BAP Challenge

My first ever official TUSAL post, and I'm a day late!  Oh well, better than never.  First for the official details - TUSAL is hosted by Daffycat, and stands for Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long.  My day-to-day ort holder is a sweet little hobnail sugar dish (yes, it also has a matching cream pitcher).  After each post, I'll dump the month's worth of orts in the blue Ball jar you can see in the picture.  Hopefully we'll be able to see the orts through the blue glass.  Wonderful vintage glassware like this is one of the benefits of moving back home.

There's a combination of silk in there from Christmas Garden, Poinsettia House and the 12 Days of Christmas ornaments, and then cotton floss from Halloween Rules.

Speaking of Christmas Garden, I've had a bit of progress on it.  Its really moving along for me.  Usually I absolutely despise stitching borders, but I got in a really relaxing rhythm with this one.  Since I took this picture, I finished up that top right quadrant and moved over to the left side and have part of the border in.

Christmas Garden is my chosen project for Becky's BAP SAL.  For once, I don't think I'm going to have any problems meeting the deadline for this.  Now I'm sort of wishing I'd challenged myself a bit more and chosen Plum Street Sampler's Paradise Lost.

This is truly a quick post, since I really want a nap.  Workouts are kicking my butt, and I'm not looking forward to tomorrow's 6 am session, I'm still feeling Monday's.  Oh well, its totally worth it, I'm down over 5 pounds since Jan 1.  So far its been a combination of Hatha yoga, water aerobics, and some group strength sessions as part of the Kroc Fit Challenge I signed up for.  My body is responding well to the yoga sessions, and I'm no longer feeling so stiff that I'll crack if I move.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thank you everyone for your kind words and thoughts for Grandma and Dad.  As an update, Grandma is hanging in there, no real change, and no real update.  She's being treated for fluid retention and being given oxygen so she can breathe.  We're still waiting on testing for her kidneys and to see if she'll need dialysis or not.

It seems Dad didn't have food poisoning.  About 6 months ago he was poorly, and got yelled at by his Doctor for not getting treatment sooner.  His kidneys had started to shutdown due to some medication he was on.  Monday morning he was saying he felt the same way, so I insisted on us going to the emergency room.  Mom got hospital duty with Grandma, I got ER duty with Dad.  She got the better deal.  Dad and I were there from 9:45 am to 4 pm.  Good news - it wasn't kidneys, just a viral bug.  Bad news - I was handling all his stuff, so I'll probably come down with it.  At least he was a good sport and let me take his picture and said I could post it.

Needless to say, Monday evening I felt like I deserved a treat, and didn't feel like doing over 1 stitching, so I started something.
BBD Christmas Garden stitched on 35 ct Weeks Sheep's Straw
linen with Shepherd's Bush silk conversion

Recognize it?  Christmas Garden by BBD, with the Shepherd's Bush conversion to silk they did for me.  A few people have asked me what this conversion is, and I'm sorry, I might be going overboard, but it isn't mine to give out.  Please give Shepherd's Bush a call if you're interested.  They're really nice, and will more than likely tell you what it is over the phone.  I know its only 4 colors, but its the same principle as if it were 30 colors.  I'm trying to respect the intellectual property of designers and LNS's.

Today I seemed to spend hours on the phone with the school I'm trying to enroll in for my MBA, and I'm getting pretty frustrated with them.  Hopefully it gets better once I'm actually enrolled.  I also managed to get to the gym - the first time since I joined a week ago.  Maybe tomorrow I'll actually get a chance make the time to respond to the comments and emails sitting in my inbox giving me a guilt complex.  Right now I'm going to treat myself and work some more on Christmas Garden, and ignore the screaming Poinsettia House.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Heather came up with a great way to keep us from getting bored with out stitching in 2012, called Theme-a-licious.  Each month has a different theme.  I decided I'd play along as much as possible and try to fit it in with my other planned stitching.  There are definitely going to be some repeats from month to month, and some of it might even be stretching it a bit.

For Jardin January we were supposed to work on anything with flowers or gardens in it.  First up is Poinsettia House.  Nope, didn't get a finish in on this like I hoped, but I have a valid reason.  More about that later.  Close, but not quite, and its not getting done tonight, I'm exhausted.

Next up is my Halloween Rules.  I stopped working on this about a week ago, but I got enough of that sunflower stitched that I'm counting it!  Yeah, yeah, its stretching the whole jardin theme a bit, but I warned you.

Its been a very busy day, starting off with a phone call letting me know grandma had taken an ambulance ride to the emergency room during the night.  Mom and Dad were supposed to come back from their camping trip anyway, but to make matters worse, Dad is sick with food poisoning (we think).  Mom has a tendency to keep foot just a bit too long, and Dad just can't say no to cilantro lime shrimp from Costco.  He's paying for it now.  This would explain why why I err on the side of caution when it comes to cleaning out the fridge.

Anyway, back to grandma.  She ended up getting admitted to the hospital (which is a good thing) and I found my way over to it to visit and make sure everything was ok.  Now I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to kill off my grandmother, but the lady is 92 years old; so one of the top priorities was to ensure the medical staff know she has a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, and to NOT give her a stress test for her heart.  They just cause more harm than its worth.

She seems to be doing ok, other than not being able to breathe without oxygen and tiring very easily.  About this time last year she was admitted with congestive heart failure and we thought that was the end.  She pulled through like the fighter she is, but I don't think this is the same thing.  First off, she's talking much easier than last time, and doesn't have the same swelling.  The suspicion is a blood clot from her legs worked its way up to her heart or lungs.  Of course being admitted on a Sat night/Sun morning means medical staff is at a low, so I don't think we'll find much out until Monday.

By the time I got home from the hospital, a trip to Trader Joe's and the Costco Zoo, the motorhome was parked in the driveway.  So much for my plans to cook a surprise birthday dinner for my mother, with a lemon cake for dessert, much less finish Poinsettia House.  She got Costco rotisserie chicken.  I did make her some Lemon Olive Oil cake while she was out visiting grandma this evening.  I omitted sprinkling the extra sugar on the top before baking.  Technically these are lime cakes, since we get really great limes from the neighbor's tree.

As you can see by this picture, they're pretty darn tasty and the glaze just puts them over the top.  Again, I just used the lime I grated the zest from.  The limes are so ripe and mild, they look like lemons, and taste pretty close.  Mom was going for another slice when I had to remind her she has the weekly family weigh in tomorrow morning.  She put the knife back down.  I'll wrap some of these up and give to the neighbors, since this household is supposed to be on a diet.  Poor Shepherd's Bush, they got used to getting my baking, but I think driving 750 miles to drop these off is a bit far.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Amazing mail day!

This morning was supposed to be hair day.  I haven't had my hair highlighted or cut in over 6 months, so it was way past due.  Well, when you decide to save money and go to a student for a full head of highlights, the morning turned into over 5 hours.  I can home tired, hungry, and just slightly cranky.  All of that went away when I saw the pile of bounty waiting at the front door.  Not to be totally greedy, 2 of the 4 packages were for mom, since its her birthday today.  I'll even let her open them when they get home from the camping trip!

First up was a box from Terri.  Back before Christmas I won a giveaway from her, and the prize was going to be a surprise.  I was definitely surprised.  And amazed.  And wowed, shocked, and almost cried.

For everyone that's having true winter weather, please don't hate me for opening the mail on the back patio, in the sunshine.  I'd actually enjoy a bit of winter and gladly trade places - for about a week!

I started in on the pile-o-pressies by opening the big daddy with the adorable twine.  Jackpot!

An amazing hinged box with a stitched top.  And look at the inside, incredible!

Sorry for the fob being upside down, but its stitched with an M on both sides, and filled with what feels like crushed walnut shells to give it some heft.

Lots and lots of extras were included.  Two different kinds of stitching fabric, two kinds of quilting fabric, some red ribbons for trim, needles, Godiva chocolate, monogrammed tissues!  And OMG, the charts!  Terri had asked me what I liked to stitch, and my response was I had eclectic tastes.  That's exactly what she sent me!  Two different reproduction samplers, an adorable Heart in Hand chart called Red Letter Day (she knew my favorite color is red), and a fantastic Ewe & Eye & Friends chart.  I have a few of the Primitive series by them, but never managed to find Primitive Star!  Totally amazing, she couldn't have picked out better stuff for me.

Next up was a box from Shepherd's Bush.  Hrmm, a box?  I thought all I was getting was an envelope with January Word Play, part 3 of Margaret Cottam, my Eggshell floss for 6 Fat Men, and my Christmas Garden chart.  Well, my friends at the Bush and my EGA chapter surprised me with some gifts.  It was like Christmas all over again, opening up the guild Christmas present and other surprises.

I cried when I opened up the BBD chart and saw a lot of the women had left me a message inside.  I really miss them.  Moving around so much I didn't make a lot of friends, but I made enough in Utah to make up for the lack in previous states.  I really miss the ladies, and its been hard adjusting to not being able to pop over to the Bush whenever I feel like chatting.  Not to mention those spur of the moment Wednesday evening calls inviting me out to dinner, or a place to take all my baked goods whenever I felt the urge to bake.

I've gotten a bit of stitching done this week.  Not as much as I'd hope, since this is supposed to be finished by Sunday.  Not sure if I'll make it.
LHN Poinsttia House, stitched over 1 on 28 ct evenweave,
my conversion to silk floss
Last January my mom had picked this chart out of my stash and put in her "wish list" pile.  Its chart I've always loved, and I came up with the bright idea of stitching it for her this week while she's gone as a birthday gift.  Unfortunately, between hair appointments (mine and grandma's), looking for a gym to join, finalizing my enrollment into my MBA program, Annie, household chores, and a plethora of other stuff, I haven't had as much stitching time as I thought.

Ok, enough time at the computer, Annie is complaining that its late, and we both should have eaten dinner an hour ago.  Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Zoo Post

No stitching at all in this post, so if that's all you're looking for, feel free to move along to the next blog in your reader!  I had an appointment this morning at the Naval Medical Center at Balboa (my first follow-up with an opthamologist since I moved, for my Thygeson's Keratitis), so I decided to drop by the zoo since its only another mile down the road.

First up was a really interesting plant.  Nope, no photo effects, that really is a bright red "pine cone" in the middle of what looks like fern fronds.  Of course I wasn't smart enough to snap a pic of the label saying what it is.

Next up was a slightly unexpected encounter with the Bactrian (2 hump) camels.  It seems the boy (go figure) was being stubborn and wouldn't go where the keepers wanted him to.  He's in rut right now.

The poor female had a bite wound on her rump (from guess who) and it needed treated.

Next up were some really soft and cuddly sweeties, or at least that's what they look like.  They actually have some pretty vicious looking claws.

This little guy was just snuggled up on his branch taking a nap.

The next picture-worthy animal was Umngani.  She's known for being very photogenic, having the longest tusks, and also being the messiest elephant in the herd.  She was certainly photogenic today, posing right up at the fence so everyone could admire her.

Unfortunately the Zoo is mourning the loss of 2 elderly elephants that had to be euthanized within the last week, Cha Cha and Cookie.  Cookie was 56 and had been suffering from geriatric issues for a while, and on high level of pain medication.  It got to the point where it was just more humane to send her to her next life.  Cha Cha was 43 and had undergone emergency gastric surgery on Christmas Day, and had never recovered.

The 2 lions were hiding on the far side of their enclosure, but both the male and female jaguars were out for viewing.  The male is supposed to be a real people person, and his keeper said he'd come right up to the fence to have his head scratched.

The keeper didn't have such complimentary things to say about the female.  She seems to be a conniving witch that is watching for someone to make a mistake so she can kill them.  The keepers are definitely careful around her.  They're hoping for some jaguar babies soon, with a better outcome than the last litter.  It seems the female is still learning how to be a mother.  She carried the litter to full term, birthed them, cared for them for 2 days, then ate them.  Yep, that's right, sorry I grossed you out, but that's nature, the good and the bad.

I caught the polar bears just seconds before they went inside for their lunch.  No, that isn't a brown bear, its just a very, very dirty polar bear that had been rolling in the dirt all morning.

At the panda enclosure both mom and the 2 year old baby were out.  You saw pictures of mom last time, so  here's a picture of  Yun Zi, eating some lunch.  He's getting pretty big and not really looking like a baby anymore.

On my way out I walked right by a peacock eating his lunch.  I know peacocks are stunning, but this one was really beautiful.  I don't think I've ever seen one with such a bright and iridescent blue head and neck.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope I didn't bore you (or gross you out) with animal pictures.  I promise the next post will be stitching.  I'm madly trying to finish up a birthday gift for my mother before she and dad get back from their camping trip.  Right now I need to play with Annie a bit.  She's being very vocal and letting me know I owe her some attention for leaving her alone all morning.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

WIPocalypse Update

I started off the 2012 WIPocalypse by working on my Halloween Rules, which I'm doing as a SAL with Myra, Cucki and Ranae.  Myra is stitching hers as individual ornaments and has already posted a pic of her first finish, its adorable!  So adorable my mom wants me to stitch that block for her as a small pillow.  At least she hasn't claimed my full banner yet.

I'm not totally in love with these colors, or the colors on the grey fabric I chose.  I'm hoping it comes together at the end.  Its funny that I normally dislike the cutesy-ness of L*K charts, but despite not loving the colors or how they're working with my fabric, I'm still enjoying stitching this.  I think the reason why is I can pick it up and work on it for short periods of time and still see progress.  Its that instant gratification thing.  With L*K, 30 minutes can be the border of a block, half the saying, or a house.  On Jane Rees, 30 minutes is one or 2 letters.

Here's where I'm at.  If the picture is crappy, blame it on my being lazy and just using my phone.  <3 the new smartphone, take a pic, make a few clicks to add an effect or 2, and then another single click to upload it to Picasa.  No fancy edits, but also not messing around with memory cards, computer, going through 2 programs, etc.  I'm saving all the buttons to sew on at the end, so they don't mess with the Q-snaps.  You might notice a few missing bits, I'm adding a smattering of small JABCO buttons in those places.  So far that's just going to be a tiny candy corn and a bat.

I learned yesterday Quilters don't have the same etiquette as stitchers.  When I went to Mom's quilting class with everyone wanted to see what I was working on, which was great.  But I couldn't control my cringe when one woman came up with a cookie in hand, ate it, and then took the cookie holding finger and ran it right over the white stitched ghost.  What are the 2 golden rules of stitchers?  First, don't touch the stitching, or if you do, have meticulously clean hands.  I don't wash my hands so often to the point I look like a 19th century pot scrubber for nothing.  Second rule (which wasn't violated here) was don't look at the back of the stitching!  Or if you do, don't make disparaging comments, don't be obvious about looking at the back, don't get caught looking at the back and then frowning.  I'll admit, my backs are pretty neat, but they're definitely not so neat you can't tell the back from the front.  If you're one of those, please don't flaunt it to me.

Incoming disclaimer for this next bit - I promise, no affiliation what so ever, I  just love their charts.  I'm talking about Jardin Prive.  Unfortunately those charts come from France and cost a fortune, so I don't own a single one.  I've admired a few of the 3 part Sampler aux Bouquets that have been done in blogland (Theresa with a WIP and Michelle with a finish), but the thought of paying almost $20 for each of the 3 charts just put it out of my reach.  Imagine my happiness when I stumbled on the designer's website, and she sells the charts via PDF, at a reduced rate.  Remember the prices are in Euros, so its still not cheap, but wow, I might be able to get a chart or 2 (or 3)!  I normally hate to cut out an LNS, but my budget is my budget, and were talking about more than a dollar or 2.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


One of my Christmas gifts this year was supposed to be a membership to the San Diego Zoo.  Mom and I went today to get the membership, and to walk around a bit, but she totally lucked out.  It seems I can still get into the zoo for another month for free, and then after that I should be able to get in for free as a volunteer.  Guess she's saving her $88!

It was fun to just pick my favorite exhibits, and not worry about having to see the whole zoo, or "get our money worth."  I haven't been in a while, and I love the place, but the hippos are my favorite.  The baby is almost a year old (Jan 26), and getting almost as huge as mom.  Too bad you can really only see their eyes, and photos through the underwater glass just don't come out well.

And here's a pic of a local free-loader in the hippo exhibit

Only one of the pandas was on exhibit while we were there, Bai Yun, the momma.  Poppa was going through some training, and the 2 year old was AWOL.  But, Bai Yun made up for it by posing for pictures.

After almost a week of dithering around and slowly gathering items up, I finally have all the giveaway stuff packed up and ready to go to the post office tomorrow.  I hope everyone likes what they end up with, if not, just re-gift it!  I'm totally ok with that.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


2012 is starting out so much better than the last half of 2011.   Luck, generosity, karma, or a little bit of it all has really helped to give me a much more positive feeling.

Nancy over at Victorian Motto has been having a lot of giveaways throughout the season.  I've seen people using her trims on a lot of smalls, gorgeous floss colors, and some really cute finishes of her charts.  I was lucky enough to win one of the giveaways, to get a PDF chart of my choice!  Very hard decision, but I ended up choosing the Christmas Reindeer Chart.  I guess I was still in the Christmas mood.  Maybe I'll splurge a bit and order some of her floss to stitch the chart.

Then there was Becky's Christmas Ornament Challenge.  I thought it was enough of a win to actually have finished ornaments.  Not only ornaments I stitched this year finished and hanging on the tree, but ornaments I'd stitched in past years got finished as well!  Imagine my surprise, shock and happiness when I read I was one of the winners!  For now my plan is to save that gift certificate for when I need a bit of a pick-me-up, or if some super-duper new chart comes out I absolutely can't live without.  I've actually budgeted a small monthly allowance for "entertainment,"  but that has to cover all entertainment, not just stitching stuff.

On the stitching front, I've gotten a bit of Halloween Rules done, but no pictures.  Actually, no stitching at all today.  I must have done something to my back, it started bothering me last night, and all day today I've been moving like I'm 90 years old.  I'm hoping I just strained a muscle.  My fear is the bum ankle is causing the back pain.  Now you're asking how the heck a bum ankle would hurt my back.  Well, when you walk with an abnormal gait, that stresses your knee, hip and back.  It seems it might be a trade-off - increase my exercise to shed the pounds but cause pain.  I'll figure something out, might have to start riding the bike instead of walking.  Poor Annie, she loves the walks.

For all you Crazy January people, I'm having a blast seeing all the starts pop up on the blogs.  Its been hard, but so far I've resisted temptation to start something new.  I get the urge, then I think about my gargantuan list of WIPs.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I decided to spread the love around and drew 5 winners for the Giveaway.  A totally non-technical method was used, since I'd been tracking all the entries and requests on a spreadsheet.

The results of Dad's hand in the Shepherd's Bush bag (I was too lazy to go downstairs for a bowl) were the following:

I'm not sure if it was luck or karma that came into play, but of the specific requests those ladies had, there weren't any overlaps.  So, the winners might figure out some of the charts coming in the mail, but hopefully there are some surprises in the packages as well.  Give me a couple of days to peruse Boutique de Mom (the craft room full of treasures) to figure out what other little treats I can include in the packages and I'll get them mailed out.