Monday, December 17, 2007

Time sure flies...

Hoo Boy, time sure flies when you are too tired to think! This cold virus really packed a wallop and I have been just barely keeping my head above water, so to speak. I really am feeling alot better; however, I feel like I'm slogging through mud most of the time. Ah, well, I'll be back to normal soon (I hope!).

First let me thank everyone for the wonderful comments on my Gingerbread House post! It's funny that a couple of you wise ladies wondered what to do with it now... well, I have no idea! It is so big I have no real place to put it except the dining room table, which, of course, is still covered with Christmas flotsam and jetsam. Right now it is sitting on a TV tray table in the living room... oh, dear, I was going to put it up on something before I left for work and didn't. Crap... any bets as to whether the dogs have gotten to the cookies by the time I get home? I sure hope they don't eat the peppermint trees!

Anyway... we did go to the company party at Taliesen West... it was sooooo cold! They had the appetizers and bar outside in the courtyard near the entrance and even with patio heaters going, it was cold. We did get tours of the buildings; however, we missed about half the tour cause we were a little late. I did get a few pictures so I'll share them.

Here is the livingroom... Frank Lloyd Wright designed everything in the home. It was rather roughly done (surprisingly so) since it was originally designed as a winter home.
Low table
The floors are pigmented concrete, something that was quite common here in Phoenix and Scottsdale. He designed all the furniture, too.

This is his office. He designed Fallingwater on that tee tiny little desk!
Office - his desk
The walls are made of granite found on site. I love the shelves along the walls.

Here's a shot from outside showing the angles he employed everywhere.
Outside lights

One more little detail... I love these lights that hung from the ceiling in a storage room turned conference room.
Hanging light
There is quite a bit of water damage throughout the home. He made the ceilings out of canvas (!) so when it rains, it leaks. Hmmmm... not such a good idea... but it sure is something to see! Anyway, we had a good time and left in a big hurry so we could get home and warm up!

Currently my creative endeavors are limited to Christmas decorating, baking, and gifting. Every year, we put together little goodie bags for the folks at the hospital that work for Glenn... this year it is for 20 people so it does take some time. It's alot of fun, though, shopping for little neat things to go with the homemade goodies. We also have a cookie exchange at work tomorrow, so as you can see, I'm up to my ears in Christmas, as are the rest of you, I'm sure. I'll take some pictures of Christmas decorations and the goodie bags as I get them done. That way I'll have a record of what I did this year on the blog!

I'll be back a little later this week, but I do want to mention Sharon B's new Take It Further Challenge. There are currently 253 participants and she has just announced that she will be closing the challenge 24 hours from the time of her last post so you better hurry if you want to sign up!!!

Take care everyone and have a wonderful time in your holiday preparations!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Not too shabby

I've had a great time this week working on my little gingerbread house. I wanted to make the house a different shape than the regular kit house so with some judicious use of a bread knife I was able to alter the pitch of the roof to make it look a little more "cottage in the woods." On Monday, a trip to a local big box yielded a nice 16"x24" shelf to cover in aluminum foil for the base and I was able to finally get started on it.

The "icing" in the kit got me this far...
There is a styrofoam base inside the little house and it is very well glued with icing so hopefully it won't fall apart!

I worked on it for several hours after work on Tuesday, in fact, I was up till midnight playing with it... I had fun! I made my first royal icing (with a little help from Black Jack)...
Mixer in motion

and I put a bit too much powdered sugar in it so it was rather stiff, but it worked well enough to get quite alot done. Here is the house, about half way done...
Half-way there

Wednesday was a bit of a wash... I was exhausted after a messed up 3 hour Dr's office visit (they changed the appt time and then the Dr. was an hour behind, what a mess). Anyway, I proclaimed a "pitiful" night for myself and just snuggled under a blankie and watched TV and read a bit. Whenever Glenn or I are feeling under the weather or overwhelmed, we proclaim a pitiful night for ourselves and the one who is not pitiful babies the pitiful one. There is a caveat; however, only one of us is allowed to be pitiful on any given night!

So, Thursday, fortified by a heavy-duty antibiotic and steroids to clear up the leavings of my cold, I pretty much finished up the gingerbread house. Glenn was the photographer and caught a good action photo as I wielded the pastry bag.
Hard at work

and the very last teeny tiny bit comes out on the top of the chimney!
That last little bit

I may do a bit more on it, but basically this is the final product. Here's the front view...
Front view

and the back view...
Back view

and the side view...
Side view

It's a bit rough around the edges, but all in all not too bad for my first one! I learned alot, I must say, and will probably be doing a few more of these in the coming years. Next, I'm going to put my new found royal icing skilz to work on some Christmas cookies!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Getting Ready for Christmas!

Hey, ladies, how's it goin'? Everybody ready for Christmas? LOL! Last week was pretty much a wash as I was super sick... stayed home and slept for two straight days and on the third day the boss sent me home at noon I was so sick... gah! Bad cold, courtesy of the grandkids, but I'll take it in exchange for a visit with them! I'm on the road to recovery, though. Yay!

I was feeling good enough that we got out the Christmas boxes. We have an odd assortment of ornaments and other goodies, everything from homemade to glitzy, so we decided it was time for a good sorting out. Glenn drug in the boxes and bins and I started sorting. What a mess! Glenn took this picture after several hours of concentrated excavating and sorting. Boy, do I have alot of snowflakes! Actually, it really isn't a huge amount of stuff, contrary to what Glenn thinks!
Now at least we know what we have! Of course we spent the remainder of the day decorating and trying to figure out what to use where. The plan is to decorate the house the way we want it and get rid of the stuff that doesn't work anymore. We'll see if we stick to the plan!

That rather strange coffee table you see above, under all those ornaments, is in the middle of being transformed from a coffee table to an ottoman. The legs and sides are from the kitchen table my parents got sometime in the fifties. My Dad transformed it into a marble topped coffee table about 30 years ago and now we are transforming that into an ottoman. Well, at least it's on the list of "Things to Do!" ;0)

This coming weekend is our company Christmas party. This year it is being held at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesen West in Scottsdale and I am so excited! I haven't been there yet and it should be really special all decorated for Christmas. In conjunction with the party, there is going to be a Gingerbread House competition so of course I had to join in on that. I've never made one before... always wanted to, just never did. We each got a lovely kit...
Fresh out of the pkg
to play with. I wanted to get going on it this past weekend but that didn't happen, so there may be some late nights this week getting it done. I'll keep you updated on the progress. ;0)

Anyway, between being sick and getting ready for Christmas, I've only gotten one lonely little seam done on my next block. It's still sitting by my chair, taunting me silently as I walk past. Ah, well... there are only so many hours in the day!

Oh, I almost forgot... we got 2" of rain on Friday! WooHoo! Getting 2" of rain in one day makes for some happy campers here in Phoenix... our yearly average is about 8" so Friday was a banner day. There was some flooding but I don't think it was too bad. We were fine but boy, do we have a yard full of pecans! The rain and wind brought them down like crazy. We picked about half of them up on Sunday, after it had dried out a bit, but there are still bunches of them. The mourning doves are helping us by eating as many as they can!

That's all for now, my lovelies... I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Good Week and Progress...

Evenin' Ladies! I have a very picture heavy post for you. As always, double click to embiggen.

I am here to report that you can spend a week with your son, his wife and their two adorable (OK, I'm prejudiced!) children and have a grand time! It seemed like a week long party, albeit with several nights of sick kids. Both Glenn and I took the whole week off so we could fully enjoy our visitors and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There was quite a bit of... ahem... drinking, a whole lot of eating and even more hugging of babies. We went to antique malls and giant electronics stores, and best of all... bead stores (twice!).

Here are a few family snaps from the week for your enjoyment. First we have a very proud Grandpa and a cutie with a cold. Poor Aiden was sick for half the week. A couple of nights were spent with Randy and Beth waking every hour on the hour. I took him at 6am one night to give them some sleep. He and I snuggled into the recliner and slept for a couple of hours. Lovely!
Glenn and Aiden

A patient Daddy... the T-shirt reads "My Daddy's Tattoos are cooler than your Dadddy's." ;0) They were watching Glenn play his guitar.
Randy and Aiden - nose

Beth and I introduced Sophia to beading. Beth held the cording and Sophia did a pretty good job of getting beads onto the cord. She got a bit frustrated but in the end she made a necklace. Got to start them young!
Beading with Sophia

And we did a little beading ourselves. I knew Beth liked jewelry so I took her over to The Bead Museum in Glendale, where we picked up a few goodies. We played with beads that night and then realized we needed some crimps so she could finish her necklace, so we went to another bead store... Bead World here in Phoenix. Oh, what a mistake that was! It is a VERY nice bead store... I was salivating! We had fun!
Beth beading

Here's the necklace and earrings I made. I already had most of the beads, but I needed findings and a clasp... and I found just what I needed at Bead World.
Purple and silver necklace
Closeups of the gorgeous clasp and the pendant are on my Flickr page.
I love it!

I did do some beading on my blocks before the kids came down. Here are blocks 1 - 4... only block 3 needs more beading. I want to finish it before I move on to another block. I'll probably be joining some of these together soon so I can start the applique and embellishing. I can't wait, it's gonna be fun!

Block 1
Block 1 - beaded

Block 2
Block 2 - beaded

Block 3 (only partially beaded)
Block 3 - partially beaded

Block 4 (the center block)
Block 4 - beaded

OK... I'm caught up now! I sincerely hope this post didn't crash your computers with all the pics!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

>>>>>Drive By Post>>>>>

No time for stitching... but my sewing room is clean!!

No time for stitching... but my patio is clean!!

No time for stitching... but my house is "almost" clean!!

No time for stitching... the kids are leaving a day early!!


Friday, November 09, 2007

Thank you so much, ladies, for your input on how you do your beading and embroidering. Quite a mix I must say! Embroidery in the recliner seems to work just fine; however, like some of you, I think I'm going to try the beading on a table and see how I like it. We have a roll around office table that should work well for me. Cool... you guys are great to let me in on your methods.

Oh, Rian? the way to take a picture with your nose is to balance the camera carefully on the bridge of your nose and push the button with the tip of your tongue.




Actually, Glenn took the picture whilst standing behind the recliner... ;0)

As promised, here are a couple of shots of the detail on this block that I really like:
Block 4 - wave seam closeup


Block 4 - top seam closeup
The second one doesn't show up very well; however, I think it would be stunning on very plain fabric.

It's been a slow week for stitching because we are getting things ready for kids and grandkids (WooHoo!) to show up for Thanksgiving... can't wait. I have managed to get Block 4 done; however, since I've put it up here about 3 times already, I won't bore you with it since there wasn't that much change. I hope to start on Block 5 this weekend. Keeping my fingers crossed, anyway!

I do have one other thing for you... I was reading Cherry Menlove's blog last week, and she noted that the V&A has a new exhibition, The Golden Age of Couture, Paris and London, 1947 - 1957 that has some wonderful eye candy. I'm not a girly girl and I couldn't even begin to wear these dresses but they are so beautiful that I thought I would bring them to your attention. Enjoy!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Wrist braces, beading and a request for feedback

I found some wrist braces/splints at Tarjay this week. They are more comfortable then the ones I wore a few years ago when my carpal tunnel first showed up. This time, I got the braces when the symptoms first appeared so I'm hoping to stave off full blown problems. Exhibit One: Embroidery with braces
Wrist splints
This is my main stitching position... feet up in the recliner and lap stand at the ready. I think I'm going to have to figure out a better position though... this one makes for pretty slow beading... also, too many spilled beads!

Actually, I was able to do quite a bit of beading last week; however, I seem to have lost my picture taking mojo because the closeups I took were pretty crappy. Even the regular picture isn't that great. See?
Block 4 - beaded
You can sort of get an idea of what I've been up to. I'll try and get some decent closeups in the next day or so. There are a couple of areas that came out pretty good.

This weekend we worked on finishing up the display case project. Glenn stained and finished some new shelves for it and I washed all the pottery (by hand... no dishwashers for this stuff!) and when we were done it looks verra nice!
Display case finished
We'll put the glass top on it tonight. We wanted to make sure the stain and finish had quit releasing fumes, etc.


Coming back around to the working arrangements for embroidery and beading. I would like to know how each of you (lurkers, too!!!) do your embroidery and/or beading. By that I mean, do you work on your lap or at a table? Do you use individual pots of beads or do you mix them all together? I have probably a whole year of working on this project and I want to get a good system going so it saves me time and effort. I like to be efficient in everything I do and working this way is starting to bug me. So, please comment and tell me what your setup for working on your crazy quilting, embroidery and beading looks like. Even better, show me (and others) on YOUR blog and leave a comment here so we can follow. Pretty please? With pink and purple and green sprinkles on top of massive amounts of whipped cream and toasted coconut? ;0)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tingling fingers and more...

I have had limited success with my CQ stitching this week. My hands have been giving me problems... tingling fingers and cold all the time. I have had troubles with carpal tunnel in the past so I knew I needed to be careful and limit my needlework time. I didn't even stitch until Thursday, and then I just did one seam. I managed a couple more this weekend, and here's where I am at this point:
Block 4 - partial
I like some of the seams and others are kind of "eh." I think I'm gonna pick up a couple of wrist splints from somewhere this week and that should help to alleviate some of the problems with my wrists.

Since I couldn't really do alot of stitching I've been doing other things that have come along. One of these was to work on the old display case that I refuse to get rid of. It's made of oak and has some lovely carving on it. Although it is certainly not Danish modern, it has a lovely patina and nice, square form that fits in despite itself. I wanted to put some of my vintage fabric in the bottom of the case, since the floor boards are just a tad bit warped. Placing my ceramic vases directly on them could lead to disaster. So, we ventured forth amongst the masses and returned with some particle board for the bottom and two red oak shelves for the top. We wrapped the board in the vintage fabric and here it is in the bottom of the display case. Click the picture to get larger sizes via Flickr.
Display case
Here's a closer picture of the fabric... I just love it.
Eames fabric - bottom of display case
I see this print and it's variations on eBay about once every six weeks or so. I have one other piece in a nubby green barkcloth with the same print and I'm hoping to incorporate it in this room, also. I have a collection of green/olive/turquoise/aqua ceramic vases, etc. that will be going in the display case when it is finished. It may be kinda weird but I like weird so it's OK with me! ;0)

Last Tuesday we went to a jazz concert at Arizona State University (ASU). Our nephew, Mark, was playing the sax in the Jazz Repertory Band. Although he isn't a music major, he made the band, a fact that makes his proud papa (my brother) very happy. Since Mark's parents couldn't be here I took lots of pictures for them. Unfortunately, only a few came out because apparently I don't know how to use my camera... guess I need to practice more! I got a few good ones and I'll share one of his solo with you.
Mark solo 10-23-07
It was a fun concert and we really enjoyed it. Later we went to dinner at a really fancy restaurant... not! Actually we went to the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) to eat. We each had a huge omelet... not a good idea at 9pm. We didn't get to bed till 11:30! We almost turned into pumpkins! LOL!! We don't get out much... can you tell?

I've also tackled my sewing room. It had gotten so bad in there that I could just barely get to the sewing machine. This is not a good thing. I picked up a lot of nice clothes (silks, rayon, linen, cotton and polyester) at estate sales recently for crazy quilt fabrics and they were just piled up in there. I got most of them ready for use and sorted by color. There's lots more to do but at least it's a start. My hope is if I rest my wrists this week and then use splints, the tingling, cold fingers will go away. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Well, that's pretty much a roundup of the week's happenings. I hope everyone is having a glorious week! See you in a few...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tagged Twice! Oh, My!!!

I have been tagged by Judy and Rissa to show 7 weird/random things about myself. Hmmm... my family would tell you that 7 things is just the tip of the iceberg!!

Here are the rules which you must abide by if you are tagged.
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs

And... here's my weird/random things...

1. I like to eat open-face peanutbutter and cottage cheese sandwiches... I have no idea where it came from but Mom used to eat them so I did.

2. I only own 3 pairs of shoes... I have chronic tendonitis in my size 11 feet, flat arches and I wear orthotics all the time. With all that going on, it's a wonder I can find 3 pairs of shoes that will work!

3. When I'm done cooking a meal and it's hot and perfect, everybody damn well better be ready to eat 'cause there's nothing worse than being late for a meal. (I think that one cames from my Dad.)

4. I love to re-purpose old things... such as make a table out of a door, a pot rack out of an old metal basket, a planter out of an old tub, etc. I just hate to see things go to waste!

5. In my life I haved lived in the following places (in chronological order):
--- Ohio
--- Pennsylvania
--- Colorado
--- Wyoming
--- Virginia
--- Puerto Rico
--- Hawaii
--- Wyoming (again)
--- Louisiana
--- Colorado (again)
--- Arizona

6. Knitting is a temptress who is about to seduce me... sigh... it's all those knitting blogs... and all those pretty colors... and it's easier to carry around than my CQ!! ;0)

7. I'm gonna be a grandma again... these two:
After wedding
are preggers!!! Yay!!!

I'm not gonna tag anyone; however, if you want to play please do so... weird things are good!!! ;0)

OK... that's all for now... some stitching was done this weekend but not enough to even post a picture!

Later, gators!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Block 4 of Midsummer Night CQ is coming along rather well... I think...
Block 4
I'm really not too sure about the curving french knot seam treatment. I love doing those off-the-cuff seam treatments; however, I think I may have gotten a teensy bit carried away on this one. It seems rather cumbersome, and is going to need some more finessing before I'm done. Oh, well... onward!

This block, so far, has french knots (lots of them), lazy daisy stitches, straight stitches and herringbone stitches. More seams to do, of course, as well as finish a couple that need some help. Hopefully by Sunday this block will be finished as far as the embroidery is concerned.

This morning, while we were getting ready for work, we found that Priss had decided that a big pottery bowl with a blanket in it was the perfect place for a morning nap.
Priss inna bowl
This is in the guest/music room so it tends to collect things as we rearrange furniture. I started talking to her and she put out a paw... then started kneading ever so slightly in response...
Priss - relaxed Priss - dug in
I think Miss Priss needs a manicure!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Block 3 of Midsummer Night

Thanks for the comments on the last post, ladies. Unfortunately, threadspider, my kitchen isn't always this tidy! That was part of the problem, I had stuff just sitting around without a home. I have actually managed to keep it clean and tidy all week, though, a major accomplishment for me. ;0) It's easier to keep clean when I use everything that is in the kitchen... I've moved all the items that I don't use on a regular basis out into the shed. If, like so many of the other items now residing in the shed, they don't get used this year, they're going on eBay. Meanwhile, it's sure been nice coming home and making supper!!

Allie, I think you are right in saying we are preparing for winter, although winter down here is pretty nice! We spent this weekend moving furniture around to make the living area flow better. It hasn't been working very well for us and we had a display case that we wanted to bring in and use. I think we've come up with a solution, but only time will tell. Pictures when it's all together!

So, I finished block 3 this weekend...
Block 3 - seams done
Stitches used in this block include cretan, herringbone, french knot, slanted buttonhole, back stitch, straight stitch, laced back stitch, and half buttonhole wheel.

Here's a close-up of the cretan stitch from Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) ...
Cretan stitch 2
I've been wanting to use cretan stitch in this way, with 4 threads in progressively lighter colors, for some time. I love the way it looks and it's very easy, too.

I've decided that I'm going to start doing the beading at work during my lunch hour. The beading is slightly more portable for me, because I don't need to use a hoop. Doing this will enable me to keep doing seam treatments in the evenings and play with beads as a break from work. Sounds like a win-win solution to me!

Later, gators!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kitchen Reorganization and TAST

Warning: Lots of pictures ahead!

Last weekend was spent doing some much needed reorganizing in the kitchen. I want to remodel it (soooooo bad) but finally decided (after much wailing and gnashing of teeth), that now is not the time to do it. In a few years we'll revisit the idea. Anyhoo... I decided that a hanging pot rack was the best way to go to get some much needed extra storage. I could get all the pots and pans out of the cabinets which would leave me room for other things... like food! ;0)

We headed out to find the perfect pot rack, with a stop along the way at Guitar World so Glenn could do a little drooling over the guitars. He had a great time playing all the REALLY nice guitars and we are hoping to be able to get him a good Martin acoustic in the spring. We liked it best, it had a nice, deep, rich sound. While we were there, Glenn looked up from his guitar and said, rather quietly... "There's Randy Johnson." I peeked around the corner and sure enough, there he was, all 6'10" of him. We kinda grinned and went about our business but the teenagers in the room about had a fit. As soon as he walked out of the room they all got on their cell phones, calling their friends and letting everybody know who they just saw... kinda like I'm doing now, come to think of it! Oh well... we don't see celebrities too often (since we never go anywhere) so I guess I'm allowed!

So, back to the pot rack. We finally found what I wanted, a for real, honest to goodness Calphalon stainless steel pot rack, with room for all my pots and pans. I put it together while Glenn watched the game and then he hung it from the ceiling. I like it where it is, although the huge overhead light is really close by.
Pot rack - 3

It hangs right over my work area, which is a 2'x3' storage rack covered with a nice piece of white cutting board that we got at a restaurant supply store. It provides lots of space for prep work and is right in front of the stove, very convenient.
Pot rack Pot rack - 2

With the rack up, I was able to spend the next few hours rethinking how I wanted the kitchen to work. Now that it is done, and everything has a place (and is actually IN that place) I think it will work just fine.
Range wall Pitchers
There are a few more pictures on my Flickr page if you want to see more and/or bigger pictures.

I did manage to get some stitching done. I finished Block 2...
Block 2 - seams done
adding a seam treatment using Arrow stitch... part of
Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST)
Arrow stitch
and also Portuguese Stem Stitch (also from TAST)
Portuguese Stem Stitch
The Portuguese Stem Stitch is snuggled in between two lines of back stitch wrapped in perle cotton.

These blocks seem to be getting done so slowly... I need to push a little bit more and get them done and quit messing around. I keep wanting to make intricate seam treatments, forgetting that the ones on the outer blocks need to be kept simple and streamlined so they fade into the background a bit. If I keep telling myself that little fact, maybe I'll actually remember it!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Midsummer CQ and TAST

I've been able to do quite a bit of stitching the past few days. I finished all the seam treatments on Block 1 (click to embiggen, as usual)...
Block 1 - seams done
and then I got started on Block 2. This one seems (I typed "seams" first, LOL!) to be flowing better. I've been able to move from one seam to the next without staring blankly at it looking for inspiration! ;0)
Block 2
The feather stitching in the upper left corner of Block 1 and the upper right corner of Block 2 will merge into one motif when I'm done. I only did a tiny bit of green on these seam treatments; however, I think it will need some more green to make it look like something other than a mistake.

I've used two TAST stitches on block 2 (so far). First we have the Reversed Buttonhole Bar from Week 39...
Reversed buttonhole bar
The buttonhole stitch was done with black #3 perle cotton and the overstitching was done with grey #3 perle cotton. Then, as usual, I didn't leave it to hang out all by itself... I added some lazy daisy stitches in silk floss.

Then we have the the Sheaf Stitch from Week 28...
Sheaf stitch
On this stitch, I made it larger and larger as it went up the seam, instead of making all the stitches the same size... I like the effect and will use it again. I'm sure this seam will have beads added to it at some point.

That's all for now... I'll be back in a few days with more gripping updates! ;0)