Dec 24, 2008


My wish for you is a holiday filled with peace. And love. And joy. May the New Year hold nothing but goodness for you and yours and may all your dreams come true.

Merry Christmas from The Spinster Stitcher (and her little dog too!)

Dec 22, 2008


It's bitter bitter cold outside, so Stewey and I are huddled in the house looking for patches of sunshine:I finished the border on PS: By The Chimney and think it does make a difference:I thought I was going to start a Pat Thode Santa canvas, but decided to pick this up instead:I started this one last year, but had not made very good progress before tucking it away. I'm determined to get it completed today so that I can put it in the "to be finished" pile for 2009. Then, I think I'll go through anything else that I started for Christmas (like the PS Twelve Days) and see if I can get those finished up before Thursday.

Here's hoping that wherever you happen to be there's something cozy nearby!

Dec 19, 2008


OK, "By The Chimney" is all finished. I kinda like the brown mantle piece and the color of the fireplace itself. Not too bad for an amateur, right? Now all I have to do is...........AAAAHHHHH!

I totally forgot the border! Damnit, Gumby! I just realized that this is "floating in space" because I didn't stitch the darn border! What the heck was I doing that I could have missed the entire border!!!!

Back to the Happy Chair....stay tuned. Damn.

Dec 18, 2008


I cried myself to sleep last night after finishing "Capote". My God, what a tragic loss. I mean, I knew that he died a sad death and all, but I was in no way prepared for how sad it would make me. I was fascinated by every detail of this man's life and will now read everything he's written. I just can't help but wonder what more he would have given the world if he would have stuck around a little longer.

Stewey senses my sadness and is glued to my hip today. He insists on being in my lap as I work online, so not much is getting done today.
We did, however, manage to get to the bank and then to Starbucks for a much needed treat:
Peppermint Mocha Twist Latte a la Spinster. (That's with a double shot of espresso and only one pump of syrup...usually they use five pumps and methinks that's just too much. I need the hit of the coffee, after all..not an impending sugar rush.)

We're waiting for a snow/ice storm, so I suppose I had better go batten down the hatches.

Stay tuned for the PS finish. I'm not going to bed until that sucker's done!

Dec 17, 2008


Is "gettin' jiggy with it" even a phrase anymore? I am so far behind popular culture that my wardrobe is back in style again. (Considering I haven't purchased clothes since about 1987, this is saying something, don't you know.)

As you can see, I went a little nuts with some colors last night. First I changed Santa's bag to brown. Then I added the yellow flames and changed the teddy bear (at least I think that's what it is) to light brown. I'm not too sure about the stockings, but I promised myself to completely finish the darn thing before I tear anything out. I'm thinking purple for the package under his arm...then his ball on his cap just HAS to be fluffy white, and I think I'll try a really pale pink for the doll's dress. Good grief, by the time I get this thing done it will look like a Crayon box threw up.

I watched "Miracle on 34th Street" last night (the modern one). This would not be news, other than the fact that I bawled my contacts right out of my eyes and had to put a cold rag on my head. Now I know you already think I need assisted living, but have you seen the part where the little deaf girl is sitting on Santa's lap and the mom says "That's OK, Santa, you don't have to talk to her. She's deaf. She just wanted to sit on your lap." And then Santa turns to the little girl and starts signing away and they have a perfectly wonderful conversation. My God. That is perhaps the most beautiful part of any Christmas movie I have ever seen. And Richard Atenborough (sp?) as Santa! Brilliant, I say! Brilliant!

And yes, in case you were wondering.....I actually DO believe in Santa Claus. Always have. Always will. You will not convince me otherwise, so don't even try. If I ever get a tattoo, it will say "Believe" and it will have that damn bell from Polar Express on it. So there. We won't even go into my whole "Santa as the perfect man routine" because I'll get all mushy again and will have to go lie down.

The "Lights, please?" from little Linus in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is also a contact spitter. I mean, come on. I know that we can all recite that thing in our sleep, but when little Linus walks out on to the stage and says "Lights, please?" in his tiny little voice and then explains what Christmas is all about, I lost it every time. Every. Single. Time. It's the voice, I swear. A tiny little kid's voice that utters the most profound and lovely sentiment for his little friend who wants to know what Christmas is all about.

Aw, geeze....there I go. Sorry kids, but I need a good boo hoo now. Please pass the tissues.

Dec 16, 2008


It all started when I was a little girl. I have a very distinct memory of sitting in my little sandbox playing with empty containers from my dad's tool b0x. I think they must have been packaging for screws and nuts and bolts, because they were clear plastic with colored tops on them.

So there I was...minding my own business, when it hit me square between the eyeballs that the colors on the container tops weren't all the same. There were red ones and green ones and blue ones and yellow ones.

This, in my punky little head, was completely unacceptable (they should have all been the same color, size, texture, and shape, don't you know), so I did what any normal two year old would do. I screamed bloody murder until Mom came running out of the house, convinced that her child had been mauled by a pack of wild dogs.

But I regress.

I have always been a "matchy matchy" kind of girl. I like things to be in order. I like them to match. I like things to line up perfectly and be labeled to within an inch of their lives and, most importantly, I like them to stay that way. In short, I prefer that everything in my world adheres to a strict matchy matchy kind of code.

In my younger days (before the advent of white cotton Fruit of the Loom big girl underpants), I insisted that my bra and underpants match. Always. Couldn't leave the house unless the flowers on the top matched the flowers on the bottom. Likewise with shoes, belts, and purses. And hats, scarves, and gloves. If it was within my realm of experience, it had to match.

At work, the pens in the pen cup had to all be the same. The pads that I took notes on needed to match the ones that were in my portfolio. My file folders needed to look like they were a family. Get the picture?

So now, as stitcher, I find shall I say this?...Completely screwed. I have this weird compulsion to matchy matchy all of my stitchy stuff. I want all of the crap to be lined up in military precision and I want to know that if a chart calls for Crescent Colors, I will use only Crescent Colors for that chart and all of its companions. If I'm colorizing a needlepoint canvas, I usually start off with the type of thread I want (i.e., Silk and Ivory, perle cotton, etc.) and then I use that and only that to colorize the entire project.

And then my stitchy muse comes along (with medication in hand) and kicks me in the head and reminds me that there is such a thing as texture, depth, creativity, and improvisation in stitching. It makes me throw everything up into the air and...gasp.....just. let. it. be.

So after years and years of resisting the matchy matchy urge, I am once again grappling with the need to anal-retentive this sucker right into oblivion. Do you see what the nice people at The Prairie Schooler have done to me? Do ya'? Huh Huh? Do ya'?:They decided to use the same palette for all of these kits! And, if you notice, the palette is rather simply: red, green, white, and black. No brown. No yellow. No pink, purple, or lavender. Red. Green. White. Black.

So if I decide to change colors on 2008's "By the Chimney", does that mean that I now have license to change the colors on 2005, 2006, and 2007 too? And if I change the colors on one, do I need to use those same colors in the other three? What if I have to use different dye lots? Or, heaven forbid, what if I simply RUN OUT OF a color and have to switch it up for one of the other pieces in the series?!


Do you see why I should not be allowed into the stitchy world. At all? Stitching is supposed to be FUN! And CREATIVE! And something one does to stretch one's ARTISTIC and FREE SPIRITED thinking!

Why can't I just get with the freakin' program and have some fun? WHY? WHY?

Note from Stewey: Um. My mom can't come to the blog right now. She's outside trying to re-arrange the snow flakes on the patio for a "more pleasing" configuration. She ran outta' here like her hair was on fire (and we all know that she's capable of doing that, don't we?) and said something about everything being SUCH A MESS that she just couldn't take it anymore. I swear I heard "Out, Out, Damn spot!", but I have no freakin' idea what that means. Well, I just thought I'd let you know why she left so abruptly. I'm gonna' go pee on something to see if I can distract her for a little while. Ciao for now!

Note from Dr. Melfi: Please don't be alarmed. She does this. Coni will go through a period of about fifteen minutes where she decides to clean/organize something and then she realizes that everything around her is a complete mess. This, in my clinical opinion, is due to the fact that she lives like a frat boy 28 days of the month and then tries to be Martha Stewart Her Very Self for the other two. So rather than say, just doing the damn laundry or emptying the dishwasher, she will pull out something stitchy related and fret over it until her insides bleed and she feels compelled to share it with all of her stitchy buddies online. We're working on limits, boundaries, and accountability, but methinks this will be a very long endeavor. In the meantime, please continue with what you're doing, and Stewey and I will get the dart gun loaded with sedatives.

Dec 15, 2008


I threw in the towel on the PS "Twelve Days of Christmas" for the weekend and pulled this instead. It is a limited edition kit from Prairie Schooler called "By the Chimney". Not too shabby on the progress, eh?

The only thing that is throwing me at the moment is the color selection. I'm all for the red and green thing during this time of the year, but would it BE so wrong for me to make the mantelpiece brown, the candle flames bright yellow, and the stockings something other than green? I can't decide if that will look nice, or if I should stick with the palette as selected by PS. Decisions, decisions.

Stewey and I finished watching "The Sopranos" late Saturday night and we were both very sad about this. When the credits rolled on the final episode, Stewey turned to me and said "What the f***?" in his best Tony accent and trotted off to his little bed. This morning I caught him out at the bird feeder trying to extort protection money from the cardinals. Methinks he's still too little to be watching such an adult program. (Good thing I never had kids.....they would probably all be behind bars by now.)

Dec 12, 2008


Brace yourselves. I know. The sheer complexity of the stitching is dazzling, isn't it? My God, but that was the longest six hours of my life.

I suppose the good news is that now that the bloody boxes are done I can enjoy filling them in with the Twelve Days. The bad news is that I'm about ready to hit myself in the head with a rock. Repeatedly.

Methinks I need to rummage around in the Christmas Stitchy Basket this afternoon. Yawn.

Dec 10, 2008


My mom can't come to the blog right now. She's in bed with Truman Capote. Well, not Truman Capote, exactly, but a big fat book that tells all about his life. I swear, the old lady keeps scuffling around the house muttering to herself that she should have written her college thesis on Truman Capote instead of that bastard Henry James, but I have no idea what that means.

The only other thing I know about my mom is that she keeps saying "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Dee Mill". When I asked her what that means, she said that her ovaries have to get their pictures taken tomorrow, so she's just making sure they know how to smile pretty. Again, I still don't get it, but I suppose it has something to do with the mood she's been in lately. I peed on the Christmas tree last night and she didn't even yell at me! She just walked into the kitchen and got THE STUFF and sprayed it on there and wiped it up without so much as a swear word sent my way. Must be her medication. Or maybe it's the big glass of Mommie Juice that she drinks every night after dinner. Either way, if it keeps her from going postal on my little heiny, I'm all for it.

I'm not exactly thrilled with the decorations around here, and I haven't found any presents stashed away yet, so I'm starting to get a little worried. I drafted my letter to Santa almost two months ago, and I even sent it FedEx this year so that he would make sure to bring me what I ASK for instead of what Mom thinks looks cute in the Target aisle. (Just for the record....I hate cute. I know I'm only nine pounds and all, but just because I'm a delicate little fellow doesn't mean that I wouldn't like to play like a boy for once. I've had just about enough of getting all tarted up and being paraded around the neighborhood like some kind of trained monkey.)

Anywhoose....busy day for me. I've been barking at a fat squirrel for the last hour, and since the sun is throwing a few good spots my way, I think I'll grab a snooze. If I can manage it, I think I'm going to convince Mom to make sloppy joes for dinner, since those are my favorite. I like them with yellow mustard and dill pickles. Don't know why.

So bear with us for a few days. Mom says not to worry about anything at all, other than the fact that her hoo ha hasn't seen the light of day in so long it might just see its shadow and decide not to come out again for six more weeks. (I might have gotten that screwed up with a movie we were watching last night, but you get the idea.)

The photo above is from a recent session that I had with Ms. Annie Liebovitz. I'm trying out looks for my jacket photo. Do you think this says "Hi, I'm Stewey, and I'm a successful writer? Won't you please read my book?"

Dec 9, 2008


Oh, I am so humbled by all of your comments about me and my new little boyfriend Ethan. Please understand that I'm DEFINITELY not worthy of such nice thoughts. I just did what anybody would do under the circumstances, and the truth is that I was probably tired of standing in line and REALLY just wanted to sit down.

So here's another story about me and my "unusual" way of living in the world.

I have a plastic tiara. Yep. Has big fat plastic jewels on it and everything. Don't believe me? Well:

"OK. So. It's askew."

This tiara was given to me by my dear friend Cheryl during my Princess CJ, Bag a' Doughnuts phase. (If you're really really good children, I'll tell you that story on another day.)

So there I was, minding my own business, when I decided to have the WORST day of my rotten stinkin' life. I wish I could tell you what prompted it, but all I remember is stomping around the house looking for something to break. So I did what any normal angry spinster would do....I got into my big gyrl bike shorts, drug out all of the cleaning supplies, slapped the tiara on my head and went to town cleaning the house. (Dont blame's some kind of freaky meditation or something. I probably read that it's therapeutic in a damn magazine and decided that my stress outlet would be cleaning the house.) (Never fear. I'm cured of that now.)

Anywhoose...I got the house cleaned up and decided to go grocery shopping (yet another therapeutic endeavor), so I changed into jeans and headed over to the local grocery store. This was on a Wednesday. I know it was a Wednesday, because there was a big ass bus in the parking lot that was the transportation device for all of the seniors living at a local "retirement community".

In the produce section, I noticed this tiny little woman who was clinging on to the display cases as though the floor were shaking. She looked like she was just going to fall over, yet there wasn't anything other than a wide expanse of shiny, slippery floor to catch her fall. So I marched right over with my shopping cart, took her arm, and said "Hello there. You look like you could you use a shopping buddy. Would you like to grab onto my cart and we'll shop together?"

It was wonderful....strolling the aisles with this lovely little woman. We chatted about recipes and I helped her select a few things for the cart (Lots of crackers, I remember. And bananas.)

When we got up to the checkout lane (this store actually had more than two of them open), the cashier said to the little old lady "Oh, Eugenia....looks like you found a friend today." At which point, Miss Eugenia puts her little hand up next to her mouth (as if to tell a secret) and says: "Yes, she has been very nice, but I think she's a little nuts."

Hey, can I help it if I forgot that I had my plastic tiara on my head?

So you see, I have a long history of being just a little bit off center. I've never been arrested, but I'm sure that if I were to ever find myself in that kind of situation it would probably be the result of something that would have made an excellent "I Love Lucy" episode. I've said totally inappropriate things at totally inappropriate times, I've electrocuted myself (only once, thank God), I've set myself on fire (gee, twice now if you include the latest incident with the stitchy lamp and magnifiers), and I'm sure that I've managed to embarrass everybody I've known several times over. I'm a lovable nut, though, and promise that I always come from a place of love and stupidity rather than one of forethought and malice. It's just me, don't you know.

No new stitchy progress to report. Stewey and I snuggled in for a long night of Sopranos and decided to hit the rack without so much as one stitch anywhere. Today is a ridiculously gloomy day, though, so I'm hoping to get some Happy Chair time later this afternoon. There's a twinkling of startitis in my veins today, so methinks this might be interesting. Stay tuned!

Dec 8, 2008


Sometimes I really think I need adult supervision.

I went to Target to pick up a prescription and decided to just get the few grocery items that I needed right there and then. Stupid decision, it turns out, since every other person in the state of Indiana had the exact same thought at the exact same time.

But I regress.

At the checkout line...oh, first let me explain that my Target has a very strict policy against opening any more than two of the eighty-five lanes they have to make the checkout process all the more enjoyable....there was a young woman in front of me with her small children. The little girls looked to be about two (there were two of them...twins?), and her little boy looked to be about four or five.

I should probably preface my remarks by explaining that I'm not exactly "kid friendly". Now I don't mean that I'm not friendly to kids or that I would ever do anything to hurt one of them, but I just don't ever have the opportunity to be around them or learn what the hell is going on in their little heads half the time. Kids perplex me. I have no idea what they need or want or are saying, and I swear they appear more as alien life forms to me than they do little people.

So the little boy in front of me decides at that very moment in time to have what can only be described as a full-on nuclear MELT DOWN. I'm not sure what precipitated this, nor am I exactly positive as to what he seemed to be screaming about (see above), but I do know that his hollering was loud enough to set off smoke alarms and rattle windows. It was...erm...uh...rather unpleasant.

Considering that there were hundreds of people in the store and at least 90% of them were waiting in line to get the hell out of there, I did what any normal adult without children would do....I looked around and made sure that they knew that I had nothing to do with whatever the hell the kid was going through. Face after horrified face just stood there staring at this kid and a few people even shot the mom a look that could have melted glass.

Don't ask me what happened next, because I'm not too sure I could explain it if I had to.

I sat down.

I sat down right on the floor in front of this little kid.

On the floor.

In Target.

I must have shocked the yell right out of the kid, because he stopped in mid bloody scream and looked at me like I was nuts. And then he did something amazing. He walked right over to where I was sitting and sat down right next to me.

Turns out his name was Ethan. And Ethan, as it would happen, was just generally pissed off at the world. His mom wouldn't give him a cookie and then they went to the toy aisle and he didn't even get to press the foot on the (I have no idea what the hell he said here..but I figured it had to do with something electronic.) He told me all about his day, including the fact that he woke up with his tummy hurting and then he didn't get to have the right kind of cereal and then his mom made him put his little coat on and they had been "doing stuff" all damn day long. And he was tired. And he was hungry. And he wanted somebody, somewhere to pay attention to him.

So Ethan and I talked about the general state of the world, came to the conclusion that Santa Claus would come to visit him even if he acted bad, and that Notre Dame has no business being in a bowl game. We named the reindeer (OK, so I made up most of the names...I'm sure there's a Pete and a Larry out there somewhere), and then Ethan told me all about his cat named Blue. (Or was it Boo?)

The line finally moved forward (damn you, Granger housewife and all your gift receipts), so Ethan and I got up off the floor, dusted ourselves off, and held hands while his mom paid for the three items she needed.

I may never solve world peace, and I might never find the cure to cancer, but I'm pretty sure that sitting on the floor in Target was the exact right thing to do at that moment in time. That kid made me feel like no matter what the hell is going on in the world..if somebody someplace just sits down for a minute to hear what you have to say, everything suddenly gets much better.

Merry Christmas, Ethan. Don't hit your little sisters, tell mom you need a little more nap time, and remember the big nutty lady that sat down with you in Target.


I did a little re-thinking of Ye 'Ole Christmas Basket and came up with some additional projects. I put them on the dining room table to give them a good review, but I was more impressed with my merchandising skills than anything else, so we called it a day and I went back to the Happy Chair armed with the same 'Ole, same 'Ole.
(In case you're wondering about the pears.....I happen to collect pears and have done so loooong before they were chic. I blame it on the JC Penney Home Store. I was on the phone with my friend Cheryl one night and a commercial came on in which a man was sitting on a couch, and in the background was a painting of a pear. So I put my shoes on and went to the JC Penny Home Store and bought the painting. It spoke to me in a "Gee, this looks just like my big fat butt" sort of way, and I then began my quest to accessorize it accordingly.) My pear normally hangs over the fireplace, but sometimes I like to mix it up a bit and hang it in my bedroom.

OK, enough of the Better Homes and Gardens tour.

I started Prairie Schooler's "Twelve Days of Christmas" and made a fair amount of progress while watching more of "The Sopranos". I'm in the middle of season five, which is not my favorite, since Tony and Carmella are separated and that makes me very sad indeed.

But I was smart enough to outline the boxes on the left side of the piece first and then do a little bit of filling-in so that I don't get too bored too fast.I'm hoping that this will be completed before Christmas, but I have resigned myself to the fact that it will not be framed and hung until next year. Sigh.

Stewey is coming around slowly, and even spent some time last night in the Happy Chair with me. He likes to get cozy on his toasting blanket (so called because that's where he toasts himself in front of the fire), and when he gets too toasted, he moves back to the Happy Chair for a little cooling off. I swear I smelled scorched whiskers last night, so I suppose I had better keep a better eye on him. Anywhoose, we had a long talk and he apologized for throwing such a fit this year. Methinks it has something to do with the "You better watch out, you better not cry" thing, but I'll take anything I can get to have peace in the kingdom at this point.

I'm off to the Target pharmacy and then out for provisions. We did get a nice amount of snow this weekend and are expected to get a little more, so I feel compelled to stock the fridge, freezer, and pantry for the duration. God knows I don't need a thing, but I always want to be prepared in the event that the 9th Fleet decides to drop in for snacks.

Dec 7, 2008


"OK, let's see. I've got my fuzzy dog, my witch's hat, my toasting blanket, and a nice warm fire in the fireplace".

"Ahhhh. Night night."

Dec 3, 2008


SCENE: A peaceful home in Mishawaka, Indiana. A Spinster Stitcher has just entered the living room of her little house dressed in a robe a slippers. Her hair is wet from the shower. A little dog perches on the back of a loveseat.

SS: OK, Stewey. Mommie is all done with the decorations now, so she's going to sit down and enjoy the evening.

S: Done? What do you mean you're done? (The little dog looks around with obvious displeasure.)

SS: I decorated the mantle, put the decorations on the tree, and set up the long table with the nativity and the three wise men that you like so much.

S: What about all of the other stuff?

SS: Well, honey, Mommie is very tired this year and just doesn't seem to have as much Christmas spirit as she usually does. So she's decided to scale down all of the preparations and just enjoy this time of the year without any stress.

S: You're kidding me, right? I have to say, Mommie..I am extrememly disappointed to hear this from you. I spent hours and hours up in the studio looking through all of your old Martha magazines, clipping photos, arranging recipes, searching for things online.....and now you tell me you're TIRED? What the $(%*@#&, Mommie! (He gets up from the perch and comes to stand directly in front of her as she tries to relax in the Happy Chair.)

SS: Stewey! You know I don't like that kind of language! And you also know that Santa Claus will not come to see you if you're not a good boy and be nice to Mommie.

(A long silence ensues, in which the little dog glares angrily at his mommie and wishes all kinds of terrible things to befall her. He comtemplates biting her on the ankle. Then he looks at the stichy project she has resting on her lap and considers the damage his overbite would do to the lovely thread. Finally, in a fit of rage, he throws himself off of the ottoman, stomps into the bedroom and throws himself into his little bed with a heavy sigh. The Spinster Stitcher turns on more of "The Sopranos" videos that she's been watching and picks up her stitching. Bliss ensues.)

I'm not sure what's wrong with me this year. I confess to feeling a bit...BLAH HUMBUG over the whole idea of the holidays. And, if you knew anything about me, you would quickly realize that this is so totally not like me that you would call the authorities.

I did finish half-ass decorating the house last night, but I'm finding it all very unsatisfying. I usually Clark Griswold my way into a house that looks like it could be sitting in the North Pole its Very Self. An eight foot wreath over the garage, illuminated wreaths hanging in every window, lovely trees and white lights framing the doorway, and Christmas magic everywhere you look.

This, of course, usually takes me a week and a half to assemble and then I'm the only one that looks at it for the two and a half days that constitute Christmas, and then I'm left fretting in the Happy Chair that I won't take it all down and put it away until March again this year.

So I took a stand. I decided to do a bare minimum and to heck with what the neighbors think. (Now, I'm sure if you asked my neighbors what they think of Miss Coni J. Rich Her Very Self not hanging Christmas decorations this year they would probably say "Who? And which house does she live in? Does she normally put decorations up? Never heard of her.") So what's the point, really?

Stewey will just have to deal with it. I suspect that he will throw this major pout until February, but that's just too damn bad. In the words of my beloved mother: I EEES DE BOSS AND YOU EEES DE BOSSEEEE. Stupid dog.

I finished the inner motifs on LJP's "Christmas Quilt" last night. I'm still loving this and hope to get the background installed tonight. Then it's on to one of Laura's famous borders and we can call this another Christmas finish for the year. Woo Hoo!

In the meantime, please enjoy a few pics of Chez Spinster Scrooge....I figured after all that work SOMEBODY should get to see this stuff other than me and you-know-who.

Dec 2, 2008


So there I was, minding my own business, when Stewey jumped up into the Happy Chair with his whistle and clipboard. "It's December 1st, Mommie Dearest, and you haven't done one damn thing around here to welcome the holidays. Do you think Santa Claus is going to find this house with a GPS? Now put your shoes and socks on and get out there in that garage. I want to see decorations and festive cheer by the end of business today."

With that, he disappeared into the bedroom. I suspect that he decided to wait out the ensuing madness in his "fort", which is the space under the bed in between dust bunnies and a few stray craft projects. (For all I know, he's tamed the bunnies into his pets and has completed, washed, framed, and hung all of the projects.)

I managed to muscle the big ass Christmas tree box into the house without too much damage and I even found the urn that I used last year that was still filled with water softener salt as a tree base stabilizer. That's a very technical term, don't you know. Tree. Base. Stabilizer.

Now I know that I am 42 years old and I know that I am supposed to be smarter than a 6 1/2 foot Martha Stewart pre-lit spruce holiday faux fir, but alas, I am not. I grunted the tree into the tree base stabilizer and then proceeded to plug it in, all the while thinking "Gee, I sure hope these 1,500 specialized white Martha Stewart faux fir tree lights work."

Sadly, they did not.

Four episodes of "The Sopranos" and a case of diet Coke later, this is what I ended up with:

It looks lovely, doesn't it? You never would guess that stripping that tree of lights or getting it into the urn and fluffing its branches would have consumed 12 hours of my day. I gave it a little kick and headed for the shower and I'm thinking the damn thing is going to stay this way until March. Stewey is not amused:"She can't even put up a Christmas tree without supervision. Why do I even bother?

On a MUCH happier note...I finished Laura J. Perin's "Jewel Box" in Christmas colors:Now I know you're wondering why I decided to use ecru in the background, but I really wanted those variegated "arrows" to pop. I think they do. Quite nicely. Now I'm going to tart this up with a bunch of beads and fish out a Michael's coupon for some fast framing and we'll be Happy Dancing for Joy all over the place.

My Christmas stitching basket is all assembled, but I have to confess that I still felt the need to do counted canvas work instead of cross stitch. I suppose that you could argue that they are very closely related, if not sisters, so I didn't feel too guilty about neglecting my q-snaps and linen supply for the time being.

The problem, however, is that between the massive holiday preparations (see above), and the massive effort to finish "Jewel Box" (also, above), my fingers are a OK, they're a bloody, scabbed over, scratched, dried out mess. I'm dutifully putting hand cream and cuticle oil on them, but I just didn't think that I could take canvas at this moment.

I was starting to fret about that when I pulled out another Laura J. Perin piece called "Christmas Quilt" and lo and behold, she mentions CONGRESS CLOTH! Woo Hoo! I can get my canvas work fix AND save my poor hurt fingers all at the same time! So I kitted it up and started stitching away and I'm just thrilled with the way it's stitching:
If you're a cross stitcher and you think you might want to try canvas work, but aren't sure about working on needlepoint canvas, congress cloth is a wonderful transition. It's 24 count and is a little stiffer than linen, but not as stiff as needlepoint canvas. It's stiff-light.

So I'll be in the Happy Chair today working on this piece, unless Stewey decides that the bare unlit tree is just too much for him to look at. He's hiding out under the dining room chairs at the moment, and methinks he's plotting a coups. Stay tuned, and send help if you don't hear from me in a few days!

Nov 24, 2008


That, of course, will be the title of my first book. Well, maybe not my first one, but surely there has to be some kind of sappy romance/holiday novel in there someplace?

I swore up and down that I wasn't going to do it this year. I swore that I would "LIVE EACH SEASON" and not rush the holidays and end up exhausted in February. I promised myself that I would enjoy Autumn and all it had to offer, patiently await Thanksgiving, and then slowly enjoy the approaching Christmas with all of its careful and thoughtfully presented merriment.

I caved. I went up into the studio and started playing around with Christmas-y colors and before you knew it, I had this:

So then my brain started whirring and I decided that I wanted to make something spectacular for Christmas....perhaps an eight foot by ten foot mural of the Nativity all done in tent stitch?

Fortunately for me, Laura J. Perin came to the rescue once again. I pulled out my LJP notebook and started flipping through the charts and discovered this:

It's from her Impressionist Collection and is called "Jewel Box". Her colorway is pink and green, but she says that you can USE WHATEVER COLORS YOU WANT TO right there on the chart! Woo Hoo! Permission to play!

I started working on this piece last Friday afternoon and I haven't put it down since. It is probably the most fun thing I have ever done in my entire life (and I have done some pretty fun things, let me tell you). I wanted to wait to reveal the finished piece, but since I'm rushing the holiday and all, I figured I'd let it rip:

Now before you write to me and ask what colors I'm using where, I must warn you that I don't have one damn clue! I didn't agonize, I didn't write anything down, I didn't think about it, I didn't check my stitchy books to see if it was right. I just sat right down with the chart and my basket of red and green threads and started stitching. I. Am. A. Genius.

Ooooops. Didn't mean to say that last thing out loud, especially since I really am NOT a genius since I didn't design this piece. But I sure am tickled with the results that are coming through, and I can't wait to see this beauty framed and hanging next to the tree.

Speaking of which.....I told myself that I was not allowed to decorate my house for Christmas this year since I didn't get the inside decorations put away until March 16th last year. I threw such a fit of disgust with myself that I decided to be grounded and not allow myself a tree this year.

Stewey, however, has completely changed my mind, since he showed me his little design notebook this morning that indicated the theme and schedule for this year's events. Apparently, I will be making pumpkin rolls tomorrow, Thanksgiving goodies on Wednesday, and then putting the tree up on Saturday.

The only thing I absolutely REFUSE to do is go out and buy more decorations. Every year I decide to "just re-do the tree once and for all" and I now have enough stuff to tart up a seventy-five foot spruce with balls to spare. So I promise to use whatever is parked in the garage, and I will try not to strangle my dog when he tells me that the tree top is just all wrong for this year's theme. I have GOT to stop letting him watch Martha Stewart in the afternoons.

Nov 22, 2008


I have been watching Notre Dame football since the age of five. My dad, a Notre Dame alum from the class of 1954 had two loves in his mom and Notre Dame football. Every fall Saturday, we could look forward to a fire in the fireplace, Dad in his comfy chair, Mom in hers with needlepoint in her lap, and the dog under the coffee table. It was a way of life.

I graduated from Notre Dame in 1989, but my "real" senior class was the class of 1988. (I took a year off when Mom died.) If you follow college football, you know that Notre Dame won the national championship that year by beating West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. I was there. 50-yard line tickets and everything.

Unlike most of the other people who graduated from Notre Dame, I don't actually know one damn thing about football, but I watched it anyway, since it seemed to be expected of me as a Domer. (You know....Domer. Golden dome?) Anywhoose, I dutifully attended as many games as I could, roasted the requisite number of tailgate wienies, and trudged my way up and down the stadium steps enough times to qualify me as a triathlete.

Things started to change for me, however, when the current Notre Dame quarterback, Jimmie Clausen announced his acceptance to ND at the College Football Hall of Fame and then went to the celebratory dinner in a Hummer limo. Then there were the usual stories about misbehavior off the field, and I found myself saying "Hmmm. Those boys certainly aren't like my classmates on the National Championship Winning team."

I don't know a thing about whether or not Charlie Weis is a good coach or not, and I have no opinion either way as to whether or not there should be a play off system in college football. What I do know is that for the first time in my 42 years on this planet I screamed myself hoarse today.

For the other team.

At first, it felt very odd. Then, I felt a little bit naughty. Finally, I went full throttle and decided that I wanted nothing more than Syracuse to beat the living daylights out of the Irish. At the beginning of the third quarter, I told Stewey that the score was going to be 24-23, Syracuse. And it was. When the clock ticked to 0:00 I jumped up and down and cried and clapped for the Syracuse team and their fired coach and their frozen fans who had come so far to watch their losing-record, 20 point-underdog team play Notre Dame at home -- and beat them on Senior Day.

And then, when the fired coach of Syracuse halted his post game press conference and shushed his team to pay respect to the Notre Dame Alma Mater, I cried again.

I lost something today. I think it's my rosy-colored glasses that had me believing that Notre Dame was a "special place" where winning wasn't everything and we were more than a football school. Now I'm not so sure. There is less and less talk about academics, or faith, or social contribution than there is about the dollars involved in bringing the team "back to glory".

The final straw for me was the shake down letter that I received from the Development Office. It was polite on the surface, but I couldn't help but feel that if I don't cough up my $5,000 next year, I will be a "lesser alumna" who doesn't REALLY feel the "Spirit of Notre Dame". (I watched the Sopranos. I know a shake down when I see it.)

So the bloom is off the rose. I am sad and lost and ashamed. I cheered against my team today and they lost. The seniors didn't get to celebrate anything on their last day in Notre Dame stadium, and there will now be months of speculation that the entire program needs re-vamping.

Next Saturday the Irish will travel to L.A. to take on USC. I'm pretty sure that the earth will stop revolving on its axis if I say anything remotely positive about the Trojans, but methinks it will be a lot easier this year to watch Notre Dame get its proverbial ass kicked. Again.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Back to our regurlarly scheduled programming. Soon. Very soon.

Nov 17, 2008


Nothing new to report. Sorry kids. I will be away from the blog for a few days, so talk amongst yourselves and don't have any fun until I get back. Ciao!

Nov 12, 2008


Today is the 21st anniversary of my mom's passing. This means that she has now been gone for over half of my life. I don't like this day very much.

I did quite a bit on Lilly last night, but I think I'm going to put her away for a little while and get back to some autumnal colors. It's cold and rainy here today, so I want to light a fire in the fireplace and cozy up to something fall-like.

Nov 11, 2008


Woo Hoo Michael's coupon! I have a jar in which I save all of my loose change. Well, that sucker was emptied out and traded in for framing for three of my finished projects. The top one is a Shepard's Bush kit, the middle is from Little House Needleworks, and the bottom is another Shepard's Bush kit. I'm just tickled pink with all three!


The Stitcher's GetAway Weekend is officially over. Chrissy and I returned home on Sunday afternoon in the cold sleety rain wishing that we could have stitched for another week or two. (I would guess, however, that the other ladies on the adventure were quite happy to see us go...we are definitely better in small doses.)

The ladies that attend this event are definitely hard-core stitchers and I have to confess to being in complete awe of every single one of them. The pieces they were working on were just incredible, and if I weren't well medicated I would have run from the room in tears. I'm just a semi-pro, don't you know, so the sight of all of that talent is overwhelming.

I sat next to Miss Kathy, who worked on a fabulous floral that was stitched in bright, cheery colors. She described a treatment that she wanted to do for the stems (twisted Frosty Rays couched with Accentuate) and the results were exactly what she had described! I was doing happy dances all over the place for her, since these stems were absolutely perfect on this canvas.

I wish I would have photographed all of the ladies and the pieces they were working on...there was everything from Christmas ornaments to a fabulous rug (woo hoo for making the half-way point!). Each project was more lovely than the next and I could have looked at them for a week and a half to get inspired.

The first time I attended this event I spent three days fretting over my total lack of stitchy skills. The second time, I put my head down and just stitched. This time, I combined both, but decided to LEARN from the other attendees rather than be intimidated by them. You see, these women are the nicest, funniest, most generous stitchers you can imagine, and if you admire their work and ask them about it they are only too happy to help you.

So I realized that I am perfectly capable of continuing on with my stitchy career and that all I need is a little confidence, a little encouragement, and a few weekends away with Miss Theresa and all of her Stitching Ladies.

I managed to finish Miss Laura J. Perin's "Grandma's Flower Garden" in my funky colors:And, since Laura was kind enough to send along a retreat project called "Holly and Ivy" I know what my next project will be! I have decided that I simply must have a LJP project going at all times or all is not well with the universe.

I also worked on "Lilly Frog". This will be assembled into a stuffed creature once it's finished. I am working with all Splendor here and just LOVING it! Thanks to Miss Pat, I was able to do about a billion french knots for Lilly's lips (the dark pink parts that will come together in assembly):
You know, for an entire weekend of stitching, it sure doesn't look like I got very much done! But I had a wonderful time and really truly appreciated all of the camaraderie and laughs! Thank you, ladies....who's betta' than you?

Nov 7, 2008


We're off to our Stitcher's Getaway Weekend with Miss Theresa of Homestead Needlearts! This time, we'll be traveling to Port Huron, MI to the Thomas Edison Inn. Woo Hoo!
My clothing bag isn't packed yet, but I did get my stitchy stuff all ready to go (priorites, don't you know).
Stewey decided to camp out in his apartment this morning. (Yes, I know. It's a cage. But we call it an apartment to avoid any negative images of being locked up.) I don't usually put him in his apartment, but I leave it out so that he can go in if he wants to.
Nanny will be here, so Stewey is very excited. She actually PLAYS with him (gee, like I don't) and I think she also takes him for long walks (OK. So. I'm one for two.) He also insisted that I point out WHICH treats he gets WHEN! If he doesn't have his Greenie and three little biscuits for breakfast it throws his whole day off. And God forbid he doesn't get the proper night night snack or there is puppy hell to pay. I'm just hoping that I don't come home to PeePolooza and that he minds his manners.
That's it for me....better go pack some clothes or it's pajamas and slippers all weekend! (Would that BE so wrong?)

Nov 6, 2008


I know that a lot of you asked to see the results of me setting my hair on fire:

Oh, I know. I'm just being silly. But this is what Stewey and I are doing this afternoon....sitting in the living room watching the fire. The gentleman that owns that "pasture" behind me gathers up all of his yard stuff and then burns it once a year. In about an hour or so all of his grandkids will come over to roast wienies and marshmallows. I don't mind this so much, but today is rather blustery, so all of the smoke is coming my way. Makes it a little difficult to breathe and when Stewey comes back in from going outside he smells like a bowling alley. Sigh.

I really thought that I would finish my LJP piece last night, but Stewey had other ideas. He decided that I just hadn't given him proper attention all day yesterday, so stitching time was going to be devoted to BALL! This dog loves his balls, lemme tell ya. (Oh, don't you even...) The weirdest thing is that he can actually identify each of them by color despite the fact that I thought dogs were supposed to be color blind. He also knows the names of each of his toys, so if I say "Go find Sheila", he comes back with his little stuffed spider. Norman is the squirrel, Petunia is the pig, Paul is the get the idea. I figure the dog is either really really lucky and picks the toy that I just happened to ask for, or he's a genius and I'll wake up someday to find that he has re-arranged my stock portfolio and taken charge of all of my affairs. Can a dog GET power of attorney?


Beans! I misnamed one of the projects in my ON DECK basket and now I feel like a boob! The piece by Laura J. Perin in which I am going to use the Watercolors "Teak" is called "Autumn Haze" NOT "Autumn Splendor". I. Am. Too. Stupid. To. Stitch.

This is one of her Stitcher's Challenge charts that is listed under Free Charts on her website.

Sorry, kids. I'll go fix it on the actual entry (that is if I can figure out how to outsmart this damn manchine).

Nov 5, 2008


Now, anybody who knows me knows that I would rather show you slides of my latest colonoscopy than talk politics, but I just had to confess.....

Did anybody else get all choked up and cry like a dork when they pulled into their respective polling place and saw the gajillions of peoples lined up to vote?

I swear, I wanted to hold hands with everybody and sing "American the Beautiful".

Regardless of the results or what your political affiliations might be, methinks it was really something to see so many people get out there and participate.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming.


In addition to my WIP basket, I also have an "ON DECK" basket. Since I am such a seasonal stitcher, I empty this sucker out about four times a year and fill it with projects that I think I'll be in the mood to stitch. I am definitely still in an autumnal mood, so I selected some charts that might not have called for autumnal colors, but that would be easily adapted. (I talked to Miss Laura J. Perin Her Very Self about this issue and she assured me that it's OK to change colors and textures to your heart's content! Woo Hoo!)

Rather than bore you with every single project in my basket, I pulled a few to show:This is a free chart that I printed from the Laura J. Perin website. It's called "Grandma's Flower Garden". The colors are supposed to be springy and fresh, but I decided to start with Watercolors "Kelp" and go from there (see above re: changing colors to one's heart's content). This is a little guy....only 8X8, so I should have him finished tonight or tomorrow.

Next up is another LJP freebie called "Autumn Splendor". *****AAAACCCKKKKK******No, it's NOT called "Autumn Splendor" you's called "Autumn Haze"! This one was a no brainer for me, since I have wanted to do something with the WC "Teak" that's been burning a hole in my stash pocket. I LOVE that thread. And I love that you can put purple and orange together with it and look like a color genius:
I'm really excited about this next one. It's from designer Orna Willis, and will be my first of her designs. I opted for her to kit it for me, and the threads are gorgeous silks:
Yup. I'm in a total canvas state of mind these days, so most of what I want to work on is either counted canvas or painted. Like this one from Raymond Crawford:
Now before you panic that I'm going to try this one on my own, please take a deep breath and relax. I was smart enough to ask Miss Theresa at Homestead NeedleArts to write a stitchy guide for me so that I won't fumble through it and mess it up.

Speaking of Homestead....Chrissy and I will be attending the Stitcher's Getaway this weekend. We were invited to go last year in the fall and then again in the spring. My first outing was a complete disaster.....I took about six hundred projects and spent the entire weekend pulling them out of my basket, looking at them, trying to figure out what to stitch, sighing heavily, and then putting them back again. I thought Chrissy was going to smack me. I don't think I put one stitch into anything that time, but I learned my lesson. For the spring retreat, I took six projects (two cross stitch, two LJP's, and two painted canvases) and I managed to finish two of them without giving anybody (including me) a nervous breakdown. Hey. You live and you learn.

I think that I also learned that I don't have to suck the oxygen out of every room I enter. I have a ridiculously bad habit of chattering like a monkey whenever I get nervous. And considering I'm usually nervous in public (because I'm terminally shy, don't you know), I tend to babble on like an idiot until somebody tells me to just shut the hell up already. (That's usually Chrissy's job, but she does it in a much more loving and diplomatic way, I promise you.) So this year I am going to try to take a breath and just enjoy myself without getting my panties in a wad over being with "people". I mean, after all, these are my stitchin' peeps, so I should just feel calm and zen-like in their presence and go with the flow, right? We'll see how I do.....

Stewey is exhausted today. He insisted in watching the election coverage since his main concern was whether or not there would be a new puppy in the White House. Not only does it look like there will be, but President-Elect Obama made reference to it in his speech. Stewey is hoping for a Jack Russell terrier, but I told him not to get his hopes up. And yes, he is a completely non-partisan pup and equally loves Barney and Miss Beasley. (Especially Miss Beasley. How could you NOT love a dog with a name like Miss Beasley?!!)
"Whew. The world is always a much better place when there is a First Pup in the White House."

Nov 2, 2008


It all started innocently enough....I awoke to a crisp Fall morning full of anticipation. After coffee and the paper I channelled my inner Ina and made a delicious roasted vegetable soup:

"Chrissy will love this", I thought as I lovingly peeled and chopped and roasted and stirred. "This will be a wonderful healthy soup we can have with sandwiches after the boys are done Trick or Treating." So I stirred and tasted and tasted and stirred and decided that it needed just a little kick for a nice robust finish. (More on this later).

At 4 o'clock on the dot Stewey and I arrived at Aunt Chrissy's with our Halloween costumes in tow and Mommie's camera at the ready. There was some tizzy-fitting going on in the car seat as we drove the 7/10 of a mile to Aunt Chrissy's, and I quickly determined what the problem was.

Stewey had decided that his lady bug costume was just too blah for his liking, so he decide to embellish it a little bit:I have absolutely nothing to say about this other than the fact that I've grounded him from Target and taken his credit card away.

Bosco, of course, was a good boy and decided that his pirate costume that HIS Mommy picked out ROCKED!:

You'll notice that he didn't feel it necessary to do anything other than put his little costume on and go see his buddy Mr. Joe next door.

We had six and a half minutes of pictures and then a lot of bitching and complaining and then we had two pouty, sweaty dogs who felt that the standard treats for the day just sucked. I suppose that we should have thought this one through a little better, but methinks Aunt Chrissy and I were too busy peeing ourselves watching Stewey in his wig.

Back to Chez Spinster for a lovely dinner of soup and sandwiches (see above). Sadly for Aunt Chrissy, the little kick that I decided to add threw her right into a full-blown heartburn attack and she was miserable for the rest of the night. OK. So. Who knew that six full tablespoons of hot Hungarian paprika was just a little TOO much kick?

Up to the studio we went for Craft Night Gone Awry! I had studied a rather cute project on the Martha show earlier in the week and methinks we actually pulled it off this time! The secret was the $10 jar of Martha glitter. Yup. $10. But this woman knows her glitter, let me tell you. It's powder fine and gorgeous (as far as glitter is concerned), and we'll be picking it off our faces for three weeks. Here are the results of our labor:

Aunt Chrissy's pumpkin is on the left. Isn't it just the cutest? The black things are glittered spiders and she twisted wire to make the stems. The thing on the right is supposed to be a pumpkin carousel. See the little witches flying around in the center? There is supposed to be black moss in the base of it, but it's still out in the garage "drying" and infesting everything I own with paint fumes. The thing in the center is just a little goofy thing that resulted in me needing something to stick the stuff into to wait for it to dry....cute, eh?

When we finished up for the night we both wondered if we would look at these things in the light of day and be totally embarrassed that two grown-ass women did them and not some sugared-up bunch of kindergartners. looking at the pics, methinks we'll just tell people that we bought these from a grade school craft sale and be done with it.

I finished my DebBee's Diamond Delights III tonight while watching "All the President's Men" on TCM. I had never seen this movie before (don't know why exactly), but I was riveted! I suppose that it helps that Chrissy and I took advantage of early voting here in Hoosierville today and we went to cast our votes. So here I sit, feeling all patriotic-like. Oh, sorry. Forgot the pic of the finished piece:

Man 'o manachevitz, but I wish I could take a decent photograph. This things is GORGEOUS, if I do say so myself. In the center of each of the little boxes in the background are pretty autumnal beads. Then, the center has a beaded "X" that I managed to kinda' knot in the middle. If you are looking for a FUN! and autumn-y project to do, this one rocked.

Whew! Sorry for the length of the post tonight, kids. Hope y'all had a splendid weekend! I'm off to the flannel sheets with a warm puppy. And, no. The wig is not allowed.