Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fun morning...

It would depend on your idea of fun, I suppose. While the household was still asleep The Travis decided he needed some hot cocoa. He went out, placed the mix in a mug, and put it in the microwave. Note, no water. Travis then came running into the bedroom yelling "Microwave! Microwave!" Brad got up and went into the kitchen and I came yelling when I heard "Fire! Fire!"

I looked at the microwave on my way to the fire extinguisher, which is kept under the kitchen sink, and saw that there was no fire, just billowing smoke. Brad, meanwhile, was opening windows and doors. I closed the microwave and pulled it out and put the whole thing outside.

The girls were up by this time. We got dressed and went to McDonald's for breakfast (yuck). When we arrived home the house was frigid and still smells like smoke. I can only imagine how much it would suck to have my whole house aflame - cold, no clothes except pajamas, and losing all my needlework! Diane, we'd have driven up to your house and stopped at Target for clothes on the way. ;)

Brad thinks the microwave is toast... Travis says he won't use it again!


It's still only noon and I'm exhausted. This afternoon I'm going to volunteer at a swim meet for five hours. Victoria's not in it but we have to do 20 hours of volunteer work a season. FYI, she did get her ribbons for her first swim meet - 6th place for freestyle and 2nd place for butterfly. go Victoria!


Madeline gave herself another haircut yesterday. She chopped a bunch off each side and while it doesn't look bad, it definately looks uneven. Again. I'm really, really tempted to take her in and get her another pixie cut.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #9

The crown is just about completed; there are two larger jewels that will be added later in the process. The gold outline is fill cross-stitch in Kreinik 1/16" ribbon. The gold silk is Trebizond. Beads are fire-polished jewels.

I've also started on the background. I'm using Woven Stitch and one strand of cream Impressions. Lots of background to stitch - I'm making myself switch back and forth with 45 minutes of background, then 45 of other stitching, then 45 minutes of background... It's a big background. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #8

"Santa has a brand new bag..."

This is stitched in Medici wool, Caron Snow (in gold curls), Rainbow Gallery Fyre Werks (the mosaic variation in the center goldwork). The Scotch stitches on the stripe are done in two colors of Medici wool, then instead of tenting gold around them I worked long Satin Stitches with tacking stitches at each intersection. Think Trellis Stitch.

He also has a snow globe!

The silver underneath is tented in Kreinik 1/16" ribbon. Stitched over that is Rainbow Gallery Water 'N Ice. The flash makes it appear more translucent but in person it looks solid. Weird camera.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Needlework stuff and more...

The new ANG catalogs came in yesterday's mail. "Fantasy Fish School" is in the March / April Needle Pointers. It is neat to see it in print! Along with that came the Milwaukee National Seminar offerings with my Folk Santa Spinner. Very exciting afternoon for me.

MTP update... Continuing onwards... I finished the "paper line drawing" of the new design and I'm quite pleased with how it came out. I pulled the threads and printed out the thread sample card and attached the threads. I was feeling quite industrious at that point so I pulled out the other design (a four-day class) and pulled threads for that, printed out the thread sample card and attached the thread. I worked out the legend with what stitches will be in each area and it's all done. :) Now I have to make color copies of the design and the thread charts and mail it all off to my proctor.

I have some other composing I need to do - outlines are done but it takes time for me to write out the papers. I also updated my resume; this one is more a functional design resume so I dropped the stuff that was not relevent to needlework and expanded on the areas that are relevent. I'm quite pleased with it.

In stitching news, I'm still working on Royal Santa. Almost done with the bag!


This afternoon I'm taking the children to Lego club. We skipped Book Report Lunch yesterday (shhh!) and went to the park with some of the other parents. It was a lovely afternoon. I even managed to get to the gym beforehand - that's twice this week! I'm planning on going later this evening to swim. Did I mention I'm swimming again? And that I'm terrible at it? :) I have some movies to watch later so I'll get some great stitching time done this evening.

Last night I went to "Mom's Night Out" with some of the other homeschool moms. We went to one of those Japanese steakhouses where they cook in front of you. The food was really good and I had a glass of plum wine that tasted like syrup. Very sweet! We had eight moms there and it was a lot of fun. The chef kept making awful jokes about call 800-hot-chef and he'll come cook for us at home. Poor guy. ;)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Working on a new design...

No pictures with this, just thoughts.

One of the things I've learned thus far in the Master Teacher Program is that the way I've been designing is different then how they expect / want? it to be. It's not worse, or bad, just different. Ideas pop into my head and I do my best to get them quickly out and saved so they don't disappear. In the past I will draw out a very poorly done picture of what I want to end up with, then I stitch it up, or chart it out if it's cross-stitch so I could have a model stitcher do it. I'm not great with drawing on paper. Brad keeps saying I need to take drawing classes to help with my "perspective" so there you go.

One thing that I've been working on learning is how to create a really striking proposal of a design that you will be willing to teach at a seminar. The way I've worked is to create the design, then try to sell it. What I'm doing now is creating a line drawing, legend and sending that in to my proctor, then I get to stitch it. I feel like she's not going to get a good feeling about my designs based on my line drawings and thread samples. Did I mention my drawing skills?

I don't use crayons (anymore) and have moved onto colored pencils, which are more blendable, and I think watercolors would be even better for the colors. I haven't done watercolors for 10+ years though and I really don't have the room (or the $$) to add a whole 'nother facet of stash. Then you have to include thread samples and when there are thousands of colors of thread and only, say 36 pencils in your set, there is going to be a lacking in the picture sent in. I really see where the people at proposals have to take a leap of faith that it will be a stunning design. Take this example by Debbie Forney. It's a great proposal, not a finished project. Based on Debbie's other designs, you have to be pretty sure it's going to be a fantastic class.

So, that's what I've been working on today. I have the design in my head. I haven't drawn it out yet, because it will just be bad on paper. Instead I went to the Paper Zone and picked up some neat papers and am going to try and create the design with scissors, glue, and paper. I'll add details with paint pens and we'll see if I'm more happy with the result. Of course, my little add-on stitch sample is done, colors are loaded on the thread sample card, and I have a very clear vision of how the end product will look. If I were doing it on canvas I'd be done in three days. But drawing it out? That would take me excruciating HOURS.

On a constructive note, part of the continuing education requirement is that I take some classes on art technique. :) I found some neat looking classes and am registered for them later in the spring. Perhaps I'll be better at this next year. :)

I am NOT sick...

But I have been fighting getting sick. My mother and dad arrived on Friday night. We went to Anthony's for dinner. I've been here 10 years now and had never been there. Diane and I had recently had a conversation about it (something about tourist trap and how locals don't go there) so I figured we should get the tourists to go. :) It was really very good! Madeline and Victoria were with us and they were pretty well behaved especially considering how late we were there.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at home and all drove out to Snoqualmie Falls. Travis was with mother and I and Madeline proceeded to scare us all to death when she ran away from Brad "towards me" and went the wrong way. No harm done but it was nerve-wrecking. Afterwards we went to a Mexican restaurant in downtown Snoqualmie - all the "cute cafes" don't have seating for seven. We looked at the trains but didn't go into the museum as it was absolutely freezing. We picked up yummy Chinese that night for dinner - they have these candied walnut prawns that are sooo good and probably have 3000 calories in a serving.

On Sunday they went to church and once home we took a drive out to the Edmonds Ferry dock and park. That area is my Dad's favorite in Seattle. Again, it was freezing. The kids played in the cold sand and mom and I sat in the car while the boys had to chase them around. Too cold! We had Ivar's for lunch and Brad tried to get the three kidlets to sit at their own table - Ha! Much screeching ensued. I made a roast for dinner that night and a from-scratch apple pie. I make awesome pies but don't do it as often as I used to make them.

Monday I took both the parents and the girls to gymnastics. The girls did very well and listened, something that Madeline has been working on very hard. She's about ready to move up to the next level so we'll see what happens. We went to Third Place Books and I found a Robert Sambuda book I don't have - The 12 Days of Christmas. We then went home and picked up Brad, then drove down to Hot Iron, which is one of those restaurants where you bowl up your own stir fry and then it's cooked for you.

I left to girls at home for Brad to take them to swimming, then drove my parents and Travis down to the airport. We stopped in Seattle so they could buy some fudge for my brother, and also took a quick drive around the north end of capital hill so they could see the view from volunteer park and look at the conservatory. (From the outside, as my mom is allergic to pretty much all plants.) Travis fell asleep just about when we got to the airport and slept all the way home.

When we arrived home I think I slept through the next morning. I don't remember. I love my parents, but it's go, go, go and I've been so tired... Next time maybe we'll stay home more. :) I'm taking echinachea and elderberry juice and lots of vitamin C. I did go exercise yesterday and I felt better afterwards. Today I'm taking Victoria to ballet and then swimming so that will be restful.

Now I'm going to go make some coffee and do the dishes. The kids have lessons and I need to type up some stuff for MTP. Life marches onward!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Isn't it exciting?

Well, I think it is exciting. :)

Why is it that EVERY picture ANG takes is much better than the crappy ones I take?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beef Stir Fry with Broccoli and Shiitake

I made this for lunch today - it was very good! The recipe is from our CSA, Klesick Family Farm.

Notes are next to things I left out because I didn't have them. ;)

1/4 lb fresh shiitake caps
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. cooking wine *I used plain white wine*
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger *I used ground powdered*
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil *couldn't find mine so I left out*
1 lb. flank steak
2 Tbsp. peanut oil *I used macadamia nut oil*
1 lb broccoli, rinsed and cut into 2" pieces
1 bunch green onions, cut on the diagonal into 1/4" slices *these were probably longer than 1/4" inch*

Remove the stems from the shiitake and slice caps into 1/4" strips.

Stir the soy sauce, wine, ginger, garlic, cornstarch ans sesame oil into a small bowl and set aside.

Cut the flank steak lengthwise into four strips, then cut the strips across the grain into 1/4" pieces.

Heat a 14" wok *I used a 12" frying pan* over high heat until a drop of water dances immediately. Swirl the peanut oil into the pan. Add the beef, distributing evenly, and cook undisturbed for a minute to brown. Add the broccoli and shiitake caps and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Give the soy sauce mixture a quick stir to unsettle the cornstarch and pour the mixture all at once over the beef mixture. Toss and cook the mixture for another minute or two to form a shiny glaze over the meat and vegetables. Scatter the green onions on top and serve.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #7

The top right corner is completed. This includes "The List", the gift box, and the frog.

The stitches used in these areas were tent stitch (basketweave where I could), Diagonal Victorian Step on the package top, and Brick Stitch on the background of the paper. Threads used include Soie d'Alger, DMC Floche blended with Accentuate, Kreinik #12, Rainbow Linen, Rainbow Gallery Fyrewerks for the package top, DMC floss for the green package, Trebizond gold for the frog's belly, and Rainbow Gallery Flair for the frog itself. Flair is a tubular mesh thread that is sparkley and transluscent.

I've been working on Santa's man-bag. The red so far is Medici wool. The squares are Scotch Stitch, and the red on the bag is basketweave. There are two strands used, so it is easy to blend them. Stitch all the darker areas with two strands of dark wool. Stitch all the lighter areas with two strands of red wool. Fill in and stitch all the areas in between with one strand of each.
A note about the stitch guide: I've received a few e-mails about the stitch guide. I did give credit before so I'll do it again. :) This stitch guide is by GeorgaDee MacLeod. She designed our ANG chapter nametags. GeorgaDee works at The Needlepointer, a shop up in downtown Everett, Washington. She is a neat lady and has a great sense of style for canvases. GeorgaDee is actually the person who taught me how to use a laying tool!
I don't know if this stitch guide is purchaseable without taking the class, but I do know that she's done quite a few stitch guides for other canvases and every one I've seen has been fantastic. The stitch guide I have for Royal Santa includes what thread, the amounts, and what stitch should (could) be used in each section. She also has stitch diagrams for unusual stitches. It makes it very easy to break down a large piece into maneagable suggestions. I will confess I skipped the line where it said "Stitch Background" and gave stitch and thread suggestions. I need to buy thread for that and will do that when I can. My kit came with a cream silk n ivory and I'm not sure if I want to do white or a light green.
I am really enjoying stitching on this piece - I have a small Melissa Shirley easter egg I've been stitching on and it is much slower than this large design. Funny how that works.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Snow, again...

I am really disliking snow the older I get.

Last night I picked up the Royal Santa again. I am working on the present box at the top of the design. Another stitcher e-mailed me this link to the Nutcracker Santa and he is just wonderful. So now I don't know which one I want more, the Nutcracker or the Wreath Santa. I would be thrilled with either.

Of course, I'm not getting either. For about the same price, a little less actually, Brad and I are getting new interior doors for the house. Yay! What great Valentine's presents for each other! :) We're buying white 6 panel doors and getting them milled so the bevel and the cutouts for the hardware will all be completed. I am truly excited. Of course, I'll have to paint them and Brad will hang them but it's still great.

Madeline and Travis were playing hide and go seek yesterday. We have a small house and there are not many places to hide, especially when your sibling counts to ten as fast as they can and are running after you before you've had a chance to climb onto the washer [again]. Victoria, dear Victoria, slammed her door on her brothers hand this time. Brad took the door off the hinges and it will stay off until the new ones come. Her new handle will lock so she can read in peace without the smaller ones coming in to bother her. It's just going to be a button lock - she does need some quiet time without people underfoot and if that means a lock it's fine. I'd rather she was in her room hiding out reading than in the only other rooms that lock, the bathrooms.

This snow is going to kill my new bulbs.

When we first moved in the pine trees were big, but not THAT big. They've all really grown. Some of my full-sun areas are now part shade. I'm planning on expanding out the back beds again this spring as well as laying down some pavers on the side of the house. I also need to either replace the side fence or add taller posts so I can have a trellis at the top for the expanding clematis.

My parents are coming up for a quick visit over the weekend. In the meantime we have a visit to the childrens museum planned, parent homeschool meeting tonight, homeschool Valentine's party tomorrow, ballet, swimming, nothing on Thursday for the kids but I have guild that evening, and Friday we're to go ice skating with the homeschool group. Whoo! At some point in there (probably Thursday) I have a couple things for finishing and then I have to make some fabric car-headrest/DVD player covers for my dad so he can take them home with them. Very exciting.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Swim meet...

Today was Victoria's very first swim meet. She had a very fun time and did great - no false starts!

I want to have an easy way to track her progress so I'm posting her times. Don't consider this bragging - I have no idea what's good or bad and the important thing is that she learns to swim. :) These are the times she said the timer gave - I think I'll be able to see the actual times on the website in a couple days and will update then.

Event Time (if have) Place
8 & U 25 Y Freestyle 30.10 6
10 & U 200 Y Freestyle Relay 3:46:92
8 & U 25 Y Butterfly 33:37 34.38 2
10 & U 50 Y Freestyle 1:09.44
8 & U 25 Y Backstroke 35:44??? (DQ'ed)
8 & U 25 Y Breaststroke 35:59 (DQ'ed)

I, myself, and wiped out. The meet was in Bellingham and it was crowded and loud. It was fun, though, I do have a headache now. Probably from the chlorine smell and the noise. We went to Famous Dave's for dinner and it wasn't as good as I remembered the Milwaukee one being.

Tomorrow is gymnastics and more swimming. Brad's turn to take her!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Egg finishing...

This hand-painted canvas from Associated Talents is finished into a shaped Easter Egg. This sweet little egg is finished with a periwinkle ultra suede backing and is trimmed with woven grosgrain ribbon. The bow on top is made from polka-dot ribbons, lace, and pearls.

Pillow - Flowers with Brush Fringe

From this photograph I can see I will never again photograph on a dark background. Whoops! This is a great pillow - the textured background of the piece is echoed in the same-color-yellow/tan chenille fabric. There is twisted cording trim, green velveteen fabric frame, the chenille fabric frame, then a beautiful brush trim that matches the twisted cording and the leaves in the design. Design by Ewe and I.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

MOHAI today...

This morning we headed down to the MOHAI in Seattle to meet up with some other homeschoolers for a field trip day. Most of the Seattle-area museums are free on the first Thursday of the month. It is a great opportunity to rotate through the museums and we usually time them so we catch the traveling exhibits. Unfortunately, they were changing over from one exhibit to another so it didn't take that long for us to go through the museum. I've read all the signs and the children like to play on the interactive exhibits. Brad did read signs and watched the movie about the Seattle fire.

We had lunch in the frigid lake air and then walked on the bridges through Marsh and Foster islands at the base of the 520 bridge. We made it over to the arboretum side but turned back rather than continue on - people were really cold!

The history fair is coming up and Victoria picked "Mongolia" as the country she wants to do a report on. We stopped at the library and she picked out a few books, a DVD, and two cookbooks all about Mongolia. I was really impressed with the selection there without having to reserve (and bring in) any books. Right now she's watching the Ghengis Khan movie.

I picked up the The Fine Art of Kimono Embroidery that had come in on interlibrary loan. What a gorgeous book! So many times they just show the kimono with no explanation and it's hard to see the detail because it's so far away. This one shows the kimono, then on most there is a close up detailing so you can see her detailed stitching. At the very end there is a key that lists the techniques used in each piece. It's very grand.

Most of the pieces in the Kimono Embroidery book were inspired by The Tale of Genji, a Japanese novel written hundreds of years ago. I'll confess I'd never heard of this book, but after seeing the pieces inspired by it I'll be reading the book!

Ok, Ghengis Khan movie is over so we're off to the post office to mail tax information to the accountant!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Children and life planning...

I've mentioned before my children's odd life goals. Take Victoria's desire to rule China and Russia together. Madeline changes her mind daily about it - right now she's in "I'm going to be a Princess mode."

Travis, dear Travis, is obviously going to be a professional debater. Truthfully, all three of the children will be great debaters. Not so much philosophers as just-plain-likes-to-argue debaters. They come by it honestly as Brad loves to play devil's advocate and I am a Taurus and just don't like to change my mind.

Travis, young Travis, is learning how to argue and cajole about nursing. Now, between the three children, I've nursed for six years. A few years ago a study was published about women who long-term breastfeed are less likely to get cancer. So, I figure, I've hit six years and I can be done. :-) I very seriously told Travis when he was two that he needed to start working on weaning. I told him a few months ago that when he's three he doesn't need to nurse anymore. Leading up to his birthday I told him that when he's three he'll be a big boy and doesn't need to nurse any longer.

His reply? "I'm not big! You're big. Daddy's big. Taria's [Victoria] big! I'm little!" When asked about Madeline, he replies that Madeline is little, like him.

Now, I've had to change the tune because we've also been using the "Big boys use the potty" line and I really don't want him to say he can't use the toilet because he's too little.

So, we work down the amounts we nurse and then I sort of cut the nursing short, much the same way that mother cats just get up and walk away. He'll try and call me back with "There's still milk in there!"

Other times, he'll try and cajole me. "That shirt is a wow! I want to nurse!" or, when I hold up a finished needlework piece, "Wow! I want to nurse!" or "I'm sleepy, I want to nurse." It's odd to me because my girls were so non-verbal that we really have no idea if this is how three-year-olds sound.

I remember, and still love, Lucia's comment that when people ask her about when she's going to wean her son she tells them she's working on it. She adds in her head "it may take four years!" Surely I won't be nursing a four-year-old. Right?

***Additional note. Please don't send me "helpful" comments like "Just cut him off" or "Let him cry it out." Those aren't helpful. I'm not really asking for help - I know he'll end when he's ready.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

PNB 2009-2010...

The subscription renewal form for Pacific Northwest Ballet came in today's mail. Upcoming pieces include:

Balanchine's Coppélia
Romeo et Juliette (Saw in Feb. 2008)
Artifact II
Mopey (chor. by Marco Goecke - see his unusual Nutcracker on Youtube)
Lambarena (1, 2, 3)
Waterbaby Bagatelles from Twyla Tharp
Balanchine in America Festival, including Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Square Dance, and The Four Temperaments
Also listed were new works from Ulysses Dove, Jiri Kylian, and Val Caniparoli.

I'm most excited about Coppélia. Léo Delibes wrote the score and it is, without doubt, my favorite piece of classical music. The plot, like most ballets, can be rather laughable, but oh - the music! Whenever I'm stressed while driving it is the piece I click my ipod to and then I swing away.

The Waterbay Bagatelles looks very interesting. I like Twyla's pieces!

Still to come this year is Broadway Classics. "Take 5, More or Less" is brilliant. I found this little bit online, but it's rather disappointing - SO much better in person and when you get to see the entire thing.

Youtube is always fun to watch ballet on - you never know what you're going to get. I love the comedic pieces - Go For Barocco I and II, for instance. My daughters LOVE this one from the movie "Center Stage".

Anyway, I do think I'm going to renew for the year. I have a few months before I have to do so (and pay!) and I will also be waiting for the final calendar to come out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

PNB Balanchine's "Jewels"...

I took Victoria today to see the "Jewels" ballet at Pacific Northwest Ballet. I do love ballet! We had seen "Rubies" during "All Balanchine" last year but this was my first time seeing "Diamonds" and "Emeralds" in person. There - I'm all done with the quotation marks. :)

Of course, I love the costumes. Truly 8 times out of 10 I love the costumes! They were glittery and floaty and just fancy. Very fun.

The dancing was mixed for me - perhaps most of the regulars just had the day off but honestly I wasn't impressed with Emeralds. I couldn't figure out if one ballerina was 1/4 count fast or if the other ballerina was 1/4 count slow.

Rubies was fun - bright and fast and sharp.

Diamonds was very elegant - floating dancing with great solos. The ending was a big whoosh!

This was the first ballet we attended in which Victoria has ever fallen asleep. Anyway, the next one is "Broadway Hits" so that should be more exciting. :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Everyday Table Topper quilt...

This is what sharp points *should* look like. :)

This is a Moda fabric collection, called "Tranquility", and the pattern is "The Everyday Table Topper" from Charmed and Dangerous.

I pieced and quilted this this evening and hand stitched the binding. Very fun! Right now it's displayed on an end table in the living room. I store some of my finished quilts folded up on the below shelf.