Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Want a Wife

I've come to that point in the year where I realize I need to be three places at once stirring a cookie dough while wrapping presents. The list has gone from what I'd like to do, to what I need to do, to what I can possibly do over the next week. What I need is a wife. Some of you may have read Judy Brady (Syfers)'s article back in the day or later in your feminist theory class (I have a sneaking suspicion not a lot of you were in feminist theory courses, but I can dream...) (Anyway, if you've never read it, I found it for you; go have a look.)

Adrienne of Martini Made has a question for you all. She needs pattern ideas for a 12 year old beginner cross-stitcher. I thought the Mary Kirby series from Bright Needle; Lizzie * Kate or Bent Creek, especially early patterns; or the Just a Quickie series of monsters from Amy Bruecken (pictured).

Do you all have anything to suggest? Many thanks.

Monday, December 15, 2014


I know many of us are in the throes of holiday craziness with the added bonus of working on gifts, and thus having nothing we can show on our crafty blogs. The dude and I find this time of year to be a little quiet at work so we decided to take a couple of days off. On Thursday we went to see the Magna Carta at the Library of Congress (through January 19). You might recognize the document as the predecessor of our own Constitution and Bill of Rights. One of the things I found most fascinating was that the Magna Carta was loaned to the US during the 1939 New York World's Fair. When it became dangerous for the document to return to the U.K., it was held at the Library of Congress. And when the U.S. entered the war, it, along with the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were moved to Fort Knox. If you get a chance to see the Library of Congress, you should. It's a beautiful building with some fabulous displays even without the Magna Carta. On Friday we went to Longwood Gardens to see the Christmas decorations. We did a few other things about town. It was a nice, relaxing day. It definitely has helped us gear up for this last full week of work this year.

Today, my mother texted me a photo of her outfit. "Thought you'd like to know that I still wear this. So many compliments!!!!" I have talked about it before, but I've never shown the photo. It's from Hollie Designs and I took it as a class, I think, at Spirit of Cross Stitch. It took a long time because we had to flip the Santa (stitched on the other side of the vest). I have the distinct inability to rotate shapes in my head, so it was a nightmare to do the second half, but I persevered. Lots of fun fibers in this one. I'm glad she still wears it because the vest I made myself (photo at the above link) never sees the light of day! 

Friday, December 05, 2014

The Season of Giving

Phoro: Jane M. Sawyer via Morgue File
Today, I turned to the January 1845 issue of Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book and found an article appropriate to the holiday season. "Gifts used to be pleasant things once; in the simpler days of this world's history, when men wore the faces and hearts God gave them and not faces and hearts of stone or ice" begins this treatise on how best to give and receive true gifts (those "spontaneous offerings from heart to heart," as opposed to gifts used as payment or procurement). This is truly a blog-worthy rant on gifts, but I can only share bits with you, so I have chosen:
Some people are much disappointed and quite indignant if "presents" do not buy affections, respect, deference, conformity, and other things that we all like. But this expectation is altogether unreasonable. Even children are seldom attached by gifts*. Their pleasure in the gift seldom refers to the giver. "Love for love" is the only barter, and we can all see when "presents" mean love. The very look--the tone of voice, may change the whole aspect of the thing. Indeed looks and tones are very important in these matters. The manner may be awkward--the eye averted--the voice constrained--the heart may shine through all and sanctify the offering. In either case, we care more for the spirit than for the action.   "Hints for an Essay on Presents" by the author of a "New Home." Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book Jan 1845; 30, 28.
So remember this season of holiday exchanges, you won't buy anyone's love when you go to the store, so make each gift a "spontaneous offering from heart to heart." We can dream, right?

I also enjoyed this article for the hint of first year writing student in the opening sentence: "Back in the day" we used to know how to give gifts. Nowadays we're so world-weary and cynical, gift-giving is a much more difficult form of exchange. Seriously, I used to get essays all the time: "since the beginning of time, man has had a love affair with the car (or other historical inaccuracy)" or "In the 1950s, women knew how to keep a clean house; nowadays children are dying from germs they pick up at home." Some days I can appreciate where I am now and where I came from. A true gift.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday

Over the Thanksgiving break, I picked up Shepherd's Bush Green Snowman. I felt like stitching something a little seasonal while we watched Worricker.

Worricker is a series of three television films written and directed by David Hare with an amazing cast including Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Helena Bonham Carter, and Winona Rider. (Taken a little while to come across the pond.) The first film, Page Eight, we took out of the library but the other two were streaming on PBS. It was very compelling as you can imagine from a cast like that (although why did all the women have that Snow White look about them?) But I digress, I got a fair amount done. I think I stitch more when I watch tv, but we only watch a couple of hours or so a week. Cuts down on the stitching!

You can see how it looked last April (and when I picked it up) here.
This post is linked to Sharon B's Work in Progress Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Smalls SAL--Ornament Exchange

This year I participated in Angela's ornament exchange. Although I haven't heard from my recipient, the post office said it's been delivered, so I'm going to show it, since it was last month's small. It is the LHN ornament from the 2012 JCS ornament issue. I was pretty faithful to the finishing. I used a wool fabric that I had and went with a navy blue ricrac instead of the green which would have been difficult to match. I changed all the colors on this from Crescent/Classic Colorworks to Weeks, except for Joshua Tree which was called for. (I can look in my project bag when I get home if you are desperate to know my changes.)

In return I received this patriotic snowman ornament. As you may know, I collect snowmen, so this will be a delightful addition to my tree. I wish I could tell you more about this, but this exchange was "no extras" and my partner took that incredibly seriously and didn't even include a note with her name on it! (Do you think they will kick me out of the club since I wrapped the ornament in tissue, put it in a plastic baggie and added a Christmas card? Have I gone totally over the top?)

That's the fun of an exchange, you just never know what you'll get!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging

I made it the whole way through NaBloPoMo! Phew.

Here are the ideas* I didn't use:

  1. Share your workspace (clean your workspace first)
  2. Book reviews
  3. Look at magazine headlines and do a word swap
  4. Use one of two words from the headline as a jumping off point
  5. Rewrite the article from your own perspective
  6. My favorite present I've ever received
  7. 10 things I believe
  8. A Room with a View
  9. If you had one whimsical or fantastical wish, what would it be?
  10. What do your family and friends think of your blogging?
  11. Christmas decorations make me ______
  12. What is one thing you do very well that you don't get credit for?
  13. What were you doing on this day 10 years ago?
  14. Since blogging do you find you have real life friends and blogging friends?
  15. Are your blogging friends different that real life friends? How?
  16. A craft/hobby/interest you wish you were good at
  17. What's on your bucket list?
  18. Take us on a tour of your home; what are your favorite spots and corners? What's hiding behind those closet doors?
  19. Why did you start blogging?
  20. Respond to a snarky email or comment
  21. A post (with pictures) describing the worst style you've ever had
  22. A blog how to: describe a technical problem you've had with your blog and how you solved it
  23. The weirdest thing you like to eat
  24. A list of the strangest foods in your kitchen
  25. What's the worst date you've ever been on?
  26. Are we saying what we really mean in the blog world or are we all just being too nice
  27. Find a blog twin--someone you follow who is either like you were when younger OR how you hope to be when older--write about each other
  28. Your favorite smell
  29. You should have listened to me---
  30. Your worst interview
  31. The one thing you use most in your house
  32. The essential guide to throwing a great party
  33. uses for the safety pin
  34. Something you excel at
  35. Seven things you can do on this weekend on the spur of the moment
  36. Scrapbooking
  37. Make a new recipe each week 
  38. Try making a recipe from *Mastering the Art of French Cooking*
  39. How has time and experience changed your perspective on a project
  40. Favorite holiday and why
  41. What do you love most about yourself?
  42. If you got a movie deal based on your blog, who would star in it?
  43. What gets you out of bed in the morning
  44. What do you enjoy most about your life?
  45. If the books on your nightstand could talk, what would they say?
  46. Name 10 creative ways to pass the time in the carpool lane
  47. Why is that in my purse
  48. My biggest pet peeve
  49. Overheard: 
  50. When I feel frustrated, I: 
  51. Are you where you thought you would be in life?
  52. Reality shows featuring crafters (I racked my brains all month and came up with nothing! I really wanted to do this one.) :(
  53. Recreate an outfit from a childhood photo
  54. Organize a swap and show your loot
  55. Post your recent Twitter or Instagram favorites
  56. Show off your all time favorite thrift store score
  57. Make a list of tips for new bloggers
  58. Interview a fellow blogger
  59. Actually do that popular DIY from Pinterest
  60. Share your opinion on a recent trend
  61. Give your readers a tour of your city
  62. What's in your bag (I've done this one before.)
  63. Review a recent purchase
  64. Show us your busy schedule
  65. Give us a dose of your favorite wedding photos from Pinterest (you know who should do this? Lee.)
  66. Share your recent vacation pictures
  67. Answer some recent comments
  68. Create a how-to post (I've got two of those I still haven't done; sigh)
  69. Take a look at what you wrote this time last year, can you expand on it?
  70. How are you getting organized this year? 
  71. Write 25 Common sense things people should know.
As I went through this list, I found duplicates. I also found a few that are too good to give away. Yup, I'm holding out on you! At least until next November!

I culled the ideas from all over the internet, but these 600 from Kludgy Mom are pretty comprehensive (if not repetitive). 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I Shopped Small

Today was small business Saturday. I know the local movement has been coopted by a national company, but it still makes sense to shop local, small, independent businesses when you can. (If you don't have 'em, you can't; but if you don't support them when you do have them...) One of the most important reasons you should is that small businesses move our economy; the money stays in your community at a much higher rate.

I hit the LNS to buy a ton of fabric for Debbie's Ultimate Crazy January Challenge. It was pretty busy when I got there--they were giving 20% off--but when I left there was only one other customer. I hope they had waves of customers in later. Then I went to the needlepoint shop where I can usually find the specialty fibers I need. There were three customers, though there were no sales running. Then I hit the bead store. It was pretty quiet as well, even though they had teamed up with the local knitting shop and needlepoint shop for discounts. I asked the owner how it was going. "Everybody's at the mall," she sighed.

I used to shop Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. Slowly all the funky cool shops gave way to Gaps and Abercrombie and Anthropologie and H&M and J. Crew. The problem with this--and it's happened in countless places-- is that you could just be anywhere. It's the mallification of America. All the same shops, all the same goods, all the same restaurants with all the same foods. Once there were many quaint and useful local shops and now towns across America are full of samey-saminess. I'm sure someone takes comfort in that.