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!