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.