Dec 21, 2013


So there I was, minding my own business, when Stewey hopped up into my lap with his little clipboard and reading glasses.  (This usually means that I'm in for some type of performance evaluation, so I braced myself and got on with it.)

"Mother, I want to talk to you about the year that wasn't."

"The what?"

"The year that wasn't, Mother.  By this, I mean the year during which you managed to do absolutely nothing, stitch absolutely nothing, write absolutely nothing, read absolutely nothing, cook absolutely nothing, and again, DO absolutely nothing."

(It was at this point that he peered over the top of his little reading glasses with what can only be described as utter disgust.)

"I didn't think it possible, Mother, but I think you've managed to break some type of land/speed record for total sloth."

(I ask you.  What the heck am I supposed to say to THAT?)

It took me a few minutes, but I gathered my remaining wit and replied thusly:

"Stewey, you're right.  This WAS the year that wasn't.  Mommie was in some kind of perpetual fog.  I'd like to think of it as The Year of Quiet, Stewey...NOT the Year of Sloth.  For you see, Little, I was tired.  And contemplative.  And worried about things.  And satisfied to just sit and look at the walls some days.  But this doesn't mean that it was a BAD year just means that it was quiet.

Before you came along and before Mommie started writing her blog and going places and doing things, she had a lot of quiet years.  Mommie used to be a very quiet person.  Shy, actually.  And she used to feel really ashamed and awkward about this until she read that there is a book out that says that the world needs people like this....that sometimes an introverted person can provide a little balance to an otherwise loud and TMI kind of world.

So I suppose that I embraced my inner quiet this year and just decided that it would be OK to watch.  And OK to listen.  And OK to learn.  To not have to be the center of attention every damn minute of the day or to feel OK to

The good news is that this quiet year allowed me to celebrate many many happy things that took place in OTHER people's lives.  Like weddings and babies and graduations and promotions and big project finishes and trips and seminars and classes and happy times with loved ones.

I might have only stitched ten things this year and only finished three....but the happiness I felt when I read about a sister/brother stitcher finishing one of THEIR projects was wonderful.   And since I wasn't frantically trying to up my numbers all the time, I was able to breathe and re-boot and learn new things and discover secrets and news and tidbits that I might have otherwise overlooked.

As for my personal life...I think that being quiet taught me to stop the madness of trying to be Martha Stewart and Ina Garten and Oprah every minute of every day.  Being quiet taught me that it's OK to have an unmade bed and a few dust bunnies for company, and that it's OK to spend an evening in front of the TeeVee with nothing but a dietCoke and an empty brain for sustenance.

Now before you start to fret about 2014, Stewey, let me tell you that I'm already planning things in my head about how the year is going to go.  I've started writing lists of books that I'd like to read, meals I'd like to cook, shows I'd like to watch, and, most importantly, stitching projects that I'd like to accomplish.  I'm going to go to my first seminar this year, Stewey, and I'm finally going to do something about all of that unused stash up in the studio that could bring somebody a lot of happiness.  I'm going to spend more time with Aunt Chrissy stitching, and I'm going to try very hard to write more on our blog about all of the crazy shenanigans that go on around here.  We're going to have fun in 2014, Stewey.  We're going to break out of the shell a little and think happy thoughts and have happy times with people we love."

(Amazingly, enough, my little dog listened to all of this quite respectfully, and then did something that caused me to break out into the ugly cry.  He put his little head on my shoulder, looked deeply into my eyes, and said "I love you, Mommie Dearest.")

Ahhhh......Christmas.  God bless us.  Every.  One.

I hope that you and the people you love will have perfect days ahead....full of everything that your heart desires.  Thanks for all of the love and happiness and joy we've had in 2013 and here's hoping that we'll have more of the same in 2014.

It's going to be a good one.....I can feel it in my bones.

Ciao, my dears.  Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year.  Love and peace and blessing to all!

With much love.
(and Stwey too!)

Nov 28, 2013


The turkey is in Aunt Chrissy's oven, the car is loaded, Stewey has his little boots on, and I'm ready for a day of feasting!  We're hosting friends this year, so no stitching until tomorrow, but we'll make up for lost time...I promise!

From our houses to yours....the Rich Sisters (and their little dogs too) send their very best wishes for a happy, healthy, lovely, fun and stitchy-filled day!

Woo Hoo!

Nov 22, 2013


I've been serving jury duty this week.  That doesn't mean a whole lot to you, I'm sure, but for some reason, the experience has really got my pea-sized brain working overtime.  If you'll indulge's what's been rattling around in there:

(Try to resist the urge to upchuck...I promise you that the following paragraphs are overwrought and ridiculous...but sometimes a spinster just needs to orate.)

(Know what I mean?)

Jury duty is hard.  It's inconvenient and unpredictable and an intrusion into our normal lives.  The tedium of waiting can be very frustrating, especially when we don't know or understand what we're waiting for.  We grumble about finding downtown parking spaces, having to figure out where to go for lunch, and the "intimacy" of the restrooms in the jury room, but somehow we press on. 

And then it's time to deliberate, and a group of perfect strangers come together in a thoughtful, conscientious, and profound way to examine and consider evidence, argue the meaning of a concept or instruction, and finally render a verdict that will change a life. 

We're bombarded with news accounts and analysis of what's wrong with our country, and there are days when I'm certain that nine out of ten people think that the cause is lost and there's nothing that we as ordinary citizens can do to reverse the course, plot a new one, stick to the plan we prefer, or just scratch the whole thing and move to Canada.

But then we serve jury duty, and we're reminded of everything that is good about our home.  We treat people with respect and honor their dignity.  We give them the benefit of the doubt and weigh things carefully before rushing to judgment, and we look out for one another with the hope that eventually we'll get it right and achieve a society that will allow our children and grandchildren to live happily ever after.

The final lesson that I learned from jury duty was the importance of trust.  We come into this experience needing to trust the judicial system, the players in it, the process, and then finally ourselves.  This last one is the hardest, because we know that we might render the right verdict, but that it might have the wrong outcome.  We know that for our system to work, we have to trust the rules and the instructions and the concepts -- even if they are in direct opposition to that which we know to be true in our deepest heart.

I'm profoundly grateful that I had this opportunity, and I hope that I'll have the chance to tell a fellow citizen to think about the things I've mentioned here if they too are called to serve.  How thankful I am that the fathers of our country had the brilliance to give me this duty...this right...and this gift.
(She climbs down from the soapbox.)

So there you have it -- what I'm contemplating as I poke the needle tonight.  I hope that wherever you are is exactly where you want to be and that your needles are flying!

Woo Hoo!
(and Stewey, too..only the part about wishing you happy times...not about the jury duty stuff)
(He keeps rolling his eyes at me as I ha-rumph around the house humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic)
(damn dog)

Nov 19, 2013


Let me begin with a very tearful and very heartfelt THANK YOU for your inquiry as to how we weathered the storm.  We are all fine here...just lost power for a short time and got to have a little sleep over at Aunt Chrissy's, but we are none the worse for wear.  Our hearts and prayers are with those who didn't fare as well, though, and I extend my usual invitation to anybody who needs a place to stay...come on over -- we'll leave the light on for ya'.

So...on this episode of "Life with a fussy little dog who is slowly driving me to the nuthouse"....

For the most part, Stewey and I are very routine people.  We tend to do the same things at the same time every day,and when these routines are interrupted, we feel dizzy and out of sorts.

Apparently, Stewey's new routine involves becoming a farmer, because for the last month and a half my damn dog has awakened precisely at 4:10 am with the urgent need to go outside to sniff the patio chairs and to then come inside to eat breakfast.  (Three crunchy little marrow bones and a Greenie, thank you very much).  (On the weekend, we have tea and toast in real china cups...but that's another story for another day.)

This morning at 4:10 am when my damn dog shot out from under the covers, launched himself out of the big girl sleigh bed, and ran to the back door, I found myself standing in the hallway shouting at the top of my lungs...."ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME??!!!  WHEN DID YOU DECIDED TO BECOME AN EFFING FARMER???!!!"

To which he replied in a manner that only Stewey can..."Mo-ther.  As you full well know, I am NOT a farmer.  I am a so-phis-ti-cate, and if you had more than a tea cup's worth of brain in your head (see what I mean about the tea cup?), you'd know that it is, by all accounts, a perfectly acceptable time for breakfast in Paris.  As a matter of fact, I think it's quite near the brunch hour, so open the door, if you please, and let me examine the patio furniture so that I might come in for a little bite."

I stood there sputtering obscenities for a full ten seconds before I realized that the damn dog had a point and that if I DIDN'T open the door I'd be cleaning up a lot more that Greenie bits and crunchy little marrow bone bits from the ottoman.

So our new routine now goes something like this:

4:10  Morning patio furniture inspection
4:12  Breakfast
4:15  Whine at the side of the sleigh bed until Mo-ther reaches down to scoop me up
4:45  Finally realize that stepping an eighth of an inch away from said Mo-ther's extended fingers as she precariously hangs over the side of the bed while reaching down to scoop me up is probably not  a good idea for this extended period of time, especially given the old lady's propensity for rage, high blood pressure, and the ability to fall out of the sleigh bed and break an ample (yet apparently surprisingly brittle) hip
5:00 Snuggle back down under the covers and wait until the first Mo-ther snore is heard bellowing from the general vicinity of the pillows.
5:01 Bolt furiously from under the covers, jump off the of the bed, and wait to see how many profanities spew forth.
5:05  Stand in the middle of the living room rug to see if Mo-ther will chase me, or if she'll just give up, say "Oh screw it", and roll over to go back to sleep
5:06  Hear snoring, water the drapes, poop in the dining room, and jump up onto perch to await dawn.

(For the record....the alarm clock is set for 6:30.  Do you have any idea how much fun it is to wake up at 4:10 every day knowing that Little Lord Fauntleroy is going to have a full 14 hours of snooze time while I'm out trying to keep him in smoking jackets and Puppy Chow?)

Nov 10, 2013


How is it possible that I go an entire week without a visit?  What has HAPPENED to me?  I used to drive y'all positively nuts with my silly blathering, and now I can't seem to get my heiney into the desk chair more than once in a full seven days.

Oh, how I've missed you so.

Nothing really too terribly new to report from the friendly confines of Chez Spinster.  Stewey and I are enjoying the fall colors and a few days of crisp temperatures while I happily stitch away on this:
Yup.  Still pluggin away on Threedles "Looking Glass" and really enjoying it despite the glitzy threads.  How is it that I can still wear glitter eye shadow, yet the thought of a few strands of Sparkle Braid sends me into a tizzy fit?

What's new in your little corner of the world?  Are you warm and safe and dry and keeping your fingers tickled with something fabulous?

Hope so!

Nov 3, 2013


AAAACCCCKKKK!!!!!!  Y'all have been so nice to tell me that the colors in this piece are just fantastic and that I'm a genius and should be Queen of the World, etc. etc. etc....but the truth of the matter is that I am not at all responsible for these lovely colors.  The designer, Miss Threedles Her Very Self offers several different colorways for this piece, and the threads here are for the yellow colorway.  (I have the yellow canvas, but decided to try it on the marbleized tan instead.)

So I guess in THAT respect, I just might be a genius.  Well, maybe genius-ish.

So, please make sure to remove me from your "Wow, she is really good with color" list and put me right back where I belong.  Tankyoubeddymuch.

Oct 26, 2013


My mom can't come to the blog right now.  I've sent her to the Targets for some industrial strength Tylenol to see if I can knock back what can only be described as a migraine of epic proportions.  For a small pup, I pack a mighty punch when it comes to pain, so forgive my scattered thoughts as I try to bring you up to speed on the old lady's shenanigans.

The autumnal season started well enough, with Mo-ther heading up to the studio armed with good intentions of a hearty clean-out, followed by a re-stocking of the stitchy basket.  Alas, it was not to be.  Instead of rekindling her passion for all things needlework, she ended up exacerbating a bad case of the "Oh why can't I be a normal person and just do things in moderation blues" instead.

Yup.  Nothing has changed with my stupid mo-ther, despite thousands and thousands of dollars spent in the self-help section of our local bookstore and countless hours spent with me listening to her complain about all of the crazy crap that dances around in her head on any given day.

I swear, I could have thrived with a smarted owner.

All is not lost, however, since I watched in amazement as Mo-ther made herself a healthy breakfast smoothie, and I think I overheard her telling my Aunt Chrissy that she fully intended to spend the day in the Happy Chair working on the final stages of this:
That's "Autumn Jumble" by The Drawn Thread, and if we weren't in the habit of falling asleep with needle in hand at 7:30 every night it would have been completed long ago.

I know that you're probably very concerned about my headache, but please understand that it is only because I am so thoroughly disappointed with this year's seasonal display.  (I use the term sarcastically, of course, since THIS is what constitutes Mo-ther's attempts at welcoming in our favorite season this year):
 Are you horrified?  I know I am.  Remember the fantastic arrangements that my Aunt Chrissy did last year and the year before that?  Well, I'm sorely tempted to call her up with the promise of a glass of an impertinent little Merlot if she'll just come over and help a nephew out.

Tomorrow will start a new tradition here at Chez Spinster.  Mo-ther is going to start a new project that has been languishing up in the studio forever.  It's called "Looking Glass" and is by Threedles.  I think that the canvas color is supposed to be bright yellow, but when we perused all of the threads yesterday, we realized that this mottled brown might just be gorgeous.  Only time will tell.

Well, friends, I suppose that bring us up to speed for the day.  I apologize for my long absence, but please know that you've never been far from my thoughts (or affections).  I will try to be better about writing, but I'm presently between valets at the moment, and the interviews are consuming me with dread.

Until we meet again, I remain your loyal and devoted friend.
With much love from your pal,

Oct 7, 2013


Today would have been my mom's 80th birthday.  This fact is, in its very self, hard to fathom, since she died when she was 54 years old.  To imagine her at 80 is hard, especially when you consider the fact that she didn't look a day over 35 when she died.

Vaceila Helen Loukos Rich.  Born in Lima, Ohio and raised there with her brothers and sisters until she met and married my dad.  Pictures and notes from her school days show a girl who was popular....probably always the life of the party....and most definitely smart.   She was pretty, too, and always dressed in something lovely.  She had, as my dad used to say "a great set of legs" and wore a 9 AAAA shoe.

When she was 17, she went to work as a secretary to the President of the City Loan.  She always said that she lied on the application to make them think she was already 18, and this caused her to screw up her birth year for the rest of her life.  She was born in 1933, NOT 1932, thankyouverymuch.

She was Sig to everybody who knew her.  Not Vaceila.  Not Miss Loukos.  Not Mrs. Rich.  She was Sig.  I didn't know the origin of that name until a few years ago when my Uncle Connie explained that he couldn't pronounce Vaceila when he was a kid, and what came out was "Sig", so "Sig" it was.   I always thought it was a name given to her by a neighbor lady who saw her as a tomboy that liked to hang upside down in the apple trees munching a snack.

Mom was beautiful, it's true, but what was even more remarkable about her was that she connected with people the moment she met them.  She could walk into a room and make everybody in it feel like it was exactly where they were supposed to be at that moment and that they were the most interesting and perfectly realized version of themselves...all because this nice lady named Sig took a minute to look them in the eye and then ask them about their life.  It didn't matter if they were a CEO or the kid putting the butter pat on the dish....they meant something and she wasn't going to let a second pass without them knowing that.

She was an artist and a needlewoman....loved needlepoint, and used to stitch the most beautiful canvases on Penelope canvas...all in tent stitch...starting from the bottom of a column and working up using the sewing method...and all while holding the canvas rolled up in her hand.  Technically, we've been told that her pieces should have been warped so badly that they would have required serious blocking, but not one thing that she stitched was ever out of kilter.  Don't ask me how she did that. matter how hard I try I can't come up with anything that adequately explains her.  She was our everything and we were hers.  Fr. Hesburgh said that the greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother.  Well, that worked in spades in our family....especially when it came to love that Dad had for her and she for him.  If I learn nothing else, at least I know what a perfect union looks like thanks to the example that she set.

I tried to describe my mom to my Jersey boy once, and all I could come up with was "She was a killer combination....1950's style housewife who could hit a golf ball 250 yards off the tee...who knew how to keep a gorgeous home and how to tell a joke, and who had the ability to tell somebody to go to Hell and they'd look forward to the trip."  Boy...was that ever inadequate.

All I know is that Aunt Chrissy and I hope that we might find something within ourselves that reminds us of mom.  Will it be our love of stitching?  Maybe a hope that we'll be remembered as kind or generous?  I'd settle for funny or smart, but would be thrilled if the only thing people knew or thought of was.....she's Sig's daughter.

Oct 6, 2013


I would have posted this last night when the game was on, but I was literally struck senseless by the gold lame'.  Federal law now prohibits me from telling you what I REALLY think about this get-up, but I will go so far as to say.....WHERE IN THE FREAKIN' ALMA MATER DOES IT SAY "NOTRE DAME, OUR MOTHER, TENDER STRONG AND TRUE, ALL DECKED OUT IN A SOLID GOLD DANCER OUTFIT AND GREEN SOCKS THAT MATCH OUR SHOES" ???!!!  (*)

Seriously, Adidas?  Seriously?

Dear sweet Jesus, I can't wait to see what the hell they wear next year. 

(*)  For the record...the words are: "Notre Dame, Our Mother.  Tender Strong and True.  Proudly in the Heavens, gleams thy GOLD AND BLUE."  

Nope.  Not one mention of WHITE.  GOLD LAME'.  OR FREAKIN' KELLY GREEN!  


I'm going back to bed....

Sep 30, 2013


Ms. Laura J. Perin, Her Very Fabulous Self
Harvest Moon House
18ct. mono canvas in ecru
Fibers as called for on chart

Oh, what a complete and total joy this was to stitch!  I learned so much and felt like such a freakin' rock star the entire time it was in my hands that I didn't want to put it down.  Don't you love it when a designer makes you feel like you actually might someday have half a clue of what you're doing?  Who's better than Ms. P for that, I ask you?

And can I give a big shout out to Miss Charlene, Her Also Very Fabulous Self for a wonderful tip about bullion knots....(use a Milners' needle so that the entire length of the needle is the same circumference and the little knots slip off easier....who knew?  and Miss Elizabeth of Needlepoint Now fame, Her Also Very Fabulous Self Too for a great how-to video on the YouTube that made learning how to actually do the damn little bullion knots very very simple.

Thanks, girls!  You ROCK!

Sep 26, 2013


One of my very favorite movies of all time is "Moonstruck".  So last night, as I settled my big fat heiney into the Happy Chair apres' dinner (leftover lasagna and a salad, thankyouverymuch), I stitched the moon on Laura J. Perin's Harvest Moon House while belting out the theme song.

Laura says to randomize your tent/basketweave stitches so that you get a good effect with the colors in said moon, and methinks she is a gee-ney-ous, since that's exactly what happened.  Almost looks kinda real, if you ask me.

(Which I know you didn't, but I thought I'd mention it anyways.)

As for the smoke...I'd love to tell you that I came up with those gentle wispy swirls on my own, but they are the result of me following the chart.

See?  Gee-ney-ous.

Today I'll add the leaves to the trees and then the stems to the pumpkins.  I've left those for last, since they are to be stitched in bullion knots, and I've never even tried one of those.  I suspect that there might be a fair amount of cussin' in my future, but I am optimistic that I'll eventually prevail!  Stay tuned!

Don't you just love the Fall?  Makes me want to buy school supplies.....

Sep 22, 2013


I've got an eighteen pound lasagne in the oven bubbling away, the windows and doors are thrown open to the cool and lovely breeze, Stewey is sacked out in the patch of sunshine coming in the back window, and I'm headed to the Happy Chair for some Sunday Stitching!

Who's happier than me?

Here's a look at what's in the Spinster Stitcher Basket Of Autumnal Fun 2013.  (Forgive the craptastic photos, please.  The camera and I had a big fight today won.)

 Laura J. Perin
Harvest Moon House

Here's hoping that your neck of the woods is perfectly perfect in every way today!  Woo Hoo!

Sep 10, 2013


 Laura J. Perin
Harvest Moon House

Look!  A flagstone walkway!  Some lovely bushes!  Now you can make your way to the front door so that Stewey and I can welcome you in for a cup of tea and some wonderful little biscuits!  Woo Hoo!

Sep 2, 2013


On Friday afternoon, I wrote a list of about 30 things I wanted to accomplish.  "It's a nice long weekend"' I said to no one in particular.  "I think I'll take advantage of it and get some stuff done."

Here's the report...

Friday evening:  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  I did manage, however, to drool all over the Happy Chair when I fell asleep in it at 7:30.

Saturday:  Aunt Chrissy and I went to House of Stitches and then It was again with the zip...zilch...nada.  This time I was drooling all over the Happy Chair by 7:15.

Sunday:  Yet again with the...(you get the idea, right?  Do I really need to humiliate myself further by confessing to a nine and a half hour nap?)

Today:  Labor Day.  I called Aunt Chrissy at noon and said "I think I'm going to go for a quadra fecta and not do a thing today."  She replied with a "What the heck is a quadra fecta?"  and wished me good luck.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, but at about 1:00 I suddenly found myself outside cleaning up the gardens, and then it was inside to clean the bathroom, do the laundry, grill the chicken, water the plants, sort the fridge, organize a fall stitchy basket, balance the checkbook, change the bed, wash the's 8:15 and I'm ready to drop.

Here's my progress on Laura J. Perin's "Harvest Moon House"

Aug 26, 2013


Once again, I was minding my very own business when.....KA-BLAM ! ! !

My water heater blew up.

And then when I went into the kitchen to make myself some comfort toast, my toaster oven went...KA-PLEWEY!

I emailed Aunt Chrissy, called the home warranty company, and then went to bed and pulled the covers over my head for a week and a half.

I'm none the worse for wear, but confess that I keep looking over my shoulder for the next major appliance breakdown to happen at the most unfortunate moment.  Don't these things always come in threes?

The roof is almost complete on my Laura J. Perin Harvest Moon House, so I'll have pictures for you soon.


Aug 16, 2013


So there I was...minding my very own business, when I turned to Stewey and said:

"Stewey, Mommie is positively va-clempt with a serious case of on-wee.  What could possibly be wrong with me that I'm not reading, writing, stitching, blogging, cooking, or sleeping?"

At which point Stewey peered over the top of his little reading glasses and the New Yorker that he was perusing and said:

"Mo-ther.  It is August.  We go through this little exercise every year at this time.  I suspect that the reason why you are feeling so out of sorts is that you have come to the sad realization that your summer did not, in fact, turn out at all as you had hoped...much like the previous 46 summers have.  Perhaps if you just dialed down the expectation meter a bit, stopped agonizing about all of the coulda shoulda woulda's in you life, and just got on with it, we could steer this particular little goat rodeo in the right direction once and for all.  Now go get me a cookie and stop that complaining, or I'll give you something to complain about."

Stewey's right.  It IS August.  And in looking back over this here blog, I see that I hit the very same wall at the very same time each and every year.  THIS year, though, I'm finally going to attribute it to a whole bunch of crap that is entirely beyond my control and...just...move...on.

My Jersey Boy didn't come for his scheduled visit because he broke his ankle playing squash.  Yup.  Squash.   From what I can tell, this was the third major "incident" that he's had playing said squash...we've had the heart attack, the concussion, and now the broken ankle.  Hmmmm.  Methinks it's time to consider backgammon.

Anywhoose....once the physical therapy has concluded and he is up and about again, I can expect another marathon cleaning session to ready Chez Spinster for a nice long visit.  (I have visions of Ozzy and Harriet dancing in my head, but with my luck and propensity for disaster it will be more Ozzy and Sharon, I'm sure.)

I think that my stitchy slump is due to the fact that it's not really summer still, yet it's not really autumn yet.  So rather than trying to fit the square peg in the round hole again, I think I'm just going to park my heiney in the studio this weekend and come up with a nice big fat basket full of things that will make my stitchy heart sing, no matter what the season may be.  I know for sure that I want to finish my Laura J. Perin Autumn House, and I would imagine that there are several other fun things up there that will do the's just a matter of pouring the dietCoke and getting to it.

So that's the report from Lake WoeBeSpinster.  I'm sorry that my absence has caused you any undue fretting.  Sometimes I forget that there are actually other people on this big blue marble that sometimes read (or shake their heads in pitiful dismay) over me and my crazypants life.  Thank you, though, for checking in and making me fell so very.....loved.

Stewey and Aunt Chrissy and Bosco all send their very best.  We are armed with good intentions for the weekend ahead, but have dashed any bright ideas that we might have had yesterday about going to the zoo.  (What can I say?  Aunt Chrissy and I are suckers for marketing, and as we watched the commercial for upcoming events at the local zoo, we both said "Hey!  Let's go to the zoo!" like it was something that we had done a thousand and one times before.)  (For the record, we have not.)

We'll be back soon with updates and more tales, I promise.  In the meantime, please know that we hope your weekend is full of everything that blows your skirt up and much much more!

Woo Hoo!

Jul 30, 2013


My mom can't come to the blog right now.  She presently sweating and grunting and cursing up a blue streak as she desperately tries to shampoo the Happy Chair.  From what I gather, all of this recent frenzy is due to the fact that we are expecting a house guest to arrive this weekend, and Mo-ther is afraid that said house guest will take one look (or sniff, as the case may be) at the Happy Chair and will run for the nearest Holiday Inn.

As for me, I am perfectly satisfied to spend the day in my little spot of sunshine at the back patio window.  I've been enjoying a few days of peace and quiet while the old lady occupies herself with filling the fridge with guest-friendly treats and the guest room with guest-friendly amenities, but I suspect that this little vaca won't last long.  I overheard Mo-ther telling Aunt Chrissy on the phone last night that I am to be given a b-a-t-h on Sunday morning.

(Funny how my idiot mo-ther thinks that I am incapable of understanding what she's s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g o-u-t, especially when you consider the fact that I am quite possibly the only member of our little goat rodeo capable of bringing home a Pulitzer.  Do you suppose that she'll figure it out when my name tops the New York Times best sellers list?)

The evenings have been filled with ice cream cones and Sopranos re-runs lately, but last night did present a few minutes of stitching on an oldie but goodie....Alphabets by The Drawn Thread:

I was so excited to see this one make an appearance that I behaved myself quite nicely into the wee hours so that Mom might make a little progress on it.  I do love it so, and wish that she would get this completed and framed for my pee-ed a tear, Chez Stewey.

Here's hoping that your Tuesday is lovely and still.  Until we meet again, I remain your loyal and devoted friend.

With love from your pal,

Jul 23, 2013


My mom can't come to the blog right now.  She's too busy sitting in her Happy Chair thinking I'm a complete genius.  (For the record, I AM a complete's just taken her a little longer than most to realize it.)

As you might have noticed, the old lady hasn't picked up a piece of cross stitching in a very very long time.  She has been so dedicated to canvas work, that I was afraid that she had forgotten how to cross the little x's that so many of us find addictive and soothing at the very same time.

When I gently approached her about this, we had a knock down drag out of an argument, and I'm afraid that all the excuses in the world didn't convince me that there wasn't more to it.  "Mo-ther", I said.  "If you've decided to give up cross stitching once and for all, then might I suggest that you pack up all of the crap in the studio and give it away to our loyal and devoted friends who DO cross stitch more than once in a blue moon?"

She mumbled something about the heat and the humidity and the sun being in her eyes and how Aunt Chrissy would never understand how we could just give up on the stitching sport that started it all, but when I pressed her further, the real truth finally emerged.

"I can't see anymore, Stewey!" she bellowed at me.  "Ever since I got this new prescription to help me see better far away, I can't see up close anymore!  I am officially old now and will never be happy again and nobody will ever want to marry me or take me on a picnic or give me lovely anniversary gifts or hold my hand when I'm tired and lonely and scared!!!"

Realizing that I can't fix more than one or two of those things in this lifetime, I called my Aunt Chrissy.

"Hello, Aunt Chrissy?  This is Stewey.  Can you please put your shoes on and come take my stupid mo-ther to the Wal-Marts to get her some new reading glasses?"

"She has seventeen and a half pairs of reading glasses next to the damn Happy Chair, Stewey", my Aunt Chrissy sighed heavily.  "What the heck is wrong with them now?"

"Apparently, she is unable to see with them, Aunt Chrissy.  I know that this is a huge imposition, but could you do this for me?  I've got a marathon of The Newsroom queued up on the TeeVee for my viewing pleasure, and I'm afraid that I won't get a moment's peace to get to it with the old lady sitting here bitching about her bad eyesight and how nobody will ever love her and how she just wants to do a little cross stitching."

A half hour later and they were back from their excursion with two new pairs of reading glasses....strength 3.0 thankyouverymuch.  Why my mo-ther didn't do this sooner is completely beyond me, since once they were planted on her face I enjoyed several hours of quiet while she played with this:
Isn't it swell?  It's Flowers, Awake by Rosewood Manor and it's being stitched on the loveliest piece of 32 ct. Barnwoon linen.  God willing, we might be looking at a lovely new finish for the Big White Wall of Nothingness before the autumn leaves begin to fade.

How's things in your neck of the woods?

With much love from your pal,

Jul 14, 2013


Nope, not THAT McSteamy...just your good old average mid-July weather related steamy.  You know what I'm talking about....temps in the 80's and humidities the same.

In short, total hell for a portly spinster who positively detests sweating, which is something I am capable of doing in the shower.

(What can I say?  I'm built for comfort, not for speed.  Besides, given my portliness, I am not too keen on exposing any body parts (like arms and legs) to the overall general public, so turtlenecks and ski pants can look a little ca-razy on a day like today.)

Stewey, of course, is loving the heat and scritches at the back door every six and a half minutes so that he can plop himself on the back patio to tan.  I think he must like the warmth that comes off of the cement, but I, for one, am perfectly happy to look at the scorching stuff from the cool and friendly confines of my Happy Chair.

I've made a fair amount of progress on my canvas.  But before I show you pictures, I need to try to explain why I am such a freakin' boob when it comes to telling y'all where this one came from.  As you might remember, this canvas was purchased from the rock stars at Wool & Willow in Cleveland.  At the time, I told everybody that this was a "Rishfeld Designs" canvas, because the name "Rishfeld Designs" is printed at the bottom of the canvas.  There's even an item number next to the words "Rishfeld Designs", so I told you and everybody who asked that  this is a "Rishfeld Designs" canvas. 

So here's where the boob part comes in.

Apparently, this canvas is found on the SUSAN ROBERTS web site.  Now why I didn't know to tell you that this is a SUSAN ROBERTS canvas, I'll never know, but will you all please forgive me for leading you astray?  I hate it when I get stuff like this wrong, since I really do try to give the proper credit where credit it due, so believe me when I tell you that this was in no way intentional.  All I know is that I am still loving every single stitch of this piece, and if you decide that you would like to stitch it too, look on the SUSAN ROBERTS site under the artist Janice Gaynor, and you'll be all set.

Sorry for the confusion.

When last we left our heroine, she was fretting over what to do with the leaves.  During the course of the last few weeks I tried several different fibers and stitches, mulled and mulled them, asked anybody who would look in my general direction what they thought, and then finally decided to do this:
I know, I know, you're scratching your head right about now and saying "Decided to do what, exactly?", but if you look at the leaves, you might detect a very faint sparkle here and there that is the result of me doing a skip tent stitch with a lovely light green Sparkle Braid that I found in my stash.  It's subtle, I know, but the shading on those leaves is so darn pretty that I really wanted to let it come through.  Thanks to a remembered hint from Miss Jane at Chilly Hollow a few years back on another canvas I was playing with, I gave it a go and decided that I quite like the results.

Methinks I might actually finish this one today, and then it's off to the beading portion of the program.  I'm hoping that I might tart this up with some fancy schmancy crystals and such, so stay tuned and get ready for the big reveal with the next decade or so.

If I get all of my chores done, my Needlepoint Now column written, and adequate tummy-rub time given to Stewey, I might start the Zecca bird canvas.  I had thought that I should switch to a little cross stitching, but it would seem I'm still in a canvas state of mind, so I might as well go with the flow for a bit.

I do hope that this finds you happy and healthy and wealthy and stitching on this fine Sunday afternoon.  If you're hot, keep cool, and if you're cool, keep warm!

Woo Hoo!

Jul 2, 2013


We had such a lovely time of it on Saturday stitching with Miss Myrtis and Miss Charlene.  I sometimes forget how perfect an afternoon can be when it's spent in the company of like-minded friends who don't  mind that I'm a nutball of the highest order.

There's been a fair amount of rain and thunderstorms in this area lately, so in an attempt to batten down the hatches, Stewey and I moved all of the patio crap into the corner and hoped for the best.  I was reading the paper and getting my wits about me the other morning when I heard a little scritch-scritching on the patio window.  I thought it might be Stewey trying to clean the glass to improve his view of his daisy, but alas, it was our new friend....Gretchen Gandolfini:

Isn't she swell?  Stewey wanted to invite her in for tea and toast, but I thought it would be better to just chuck a big piece of broccoli out into the back forty in hopes that she would get the hint and relocate.

She did.

He'll get over it eventually, I'm sure, but in the meantime, all I hear coming from the general vicinity of his perch is a lot of kvetching over the fact that I never let him have friends over to entertain in the manner to which he (and Martha Stewart) have become accustomed.

Damn dog.

I'm really happy with the progress I've made on the Rishfeld canvas.  If you would have told me a few years ago that there would come a time when I would stitch the same thing for months on end, I would have thought that you'd fallen down and smacked your little head on the pavement.  What the heck happened to that schitzo-stitcher who flitted from thing to thing to thing with her hair on fire?

Ahhhhhhh, maturity.

The sunflower in the corner is complete, but for a few beads in the center:
(I know that there are areas of open canvas here, but I kind of like it that way.  The paint color is really lovely and has a bit of sparkle to it, so I ask you, would it BE so wrong to just leave it alone?)

The big central flower is coming along.  I'm still not too sure about those outer petals, but given my new attitude, I'm not above trying a few different things before settling on the final stitch:
So that's the report from Lake WoeBeSpinster, kids.  We're back in the Happy Chair today armed with a marathon of Magic City and a ham sandwich for sustenance. 

What's new with you?

Jun 25, 2013


I was doing just fine.  Really.  I was.  I managed to actually get out of the bed, dry my eyes, blow my nose, and sit up in the buggy like a real live person.

"What ever happened to keeping your crazy on the inside?" I wondered as I poured my morning coffee. "The way you're carrying on, you'd think that you had lost a close family member.  For pity's sakes!  You didn't go this far over the edge when you really DID lose close family members!  What the heck is WRONG with you, anyway?"

So I got on with the business of things until Aunt Chrissy told me that his funeral is going to be on Thursday at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

And I puddled all over the place again.

No, in case you were wondering, I never met or dated or married or touched or talked to or even came within the same zip code as James Gandolfini.  But I loved him as though he were my very own soul mate, imported straight from New Jersey its Very Fabulous Self....just to make me giddy.

James Gandolfini was the only reason I actually put my glasses on my face some days.  And watching him in The Sopranos was a ritual that I performed as a way to forget about reality for a few hours and go deep into a world full of gabba-gool and Christo-fa!

Yeah, I lived in New Jersey for six years, but I never really "was" Jersey.  I tried.  Really.  I did.  I came home to Hoosierville and impressed the dickens out of anybody who would listen with my tales of life on the shore and all of the amazing things you could find there in the way of food and family and attitude.  I admit it. I became a total wanna-be from the moment I laid eyes on the Garden State Parkway, and planting myself in front of Tony and Carmella and the gang made me feel like I could fit right in rather than get laughed out of the neighborhood for calling it pasta and sauce instead of noodles and gravy.

Then there were the moments when I watched other things with my boy in, like The Mexican and The Last Castle.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  He's going to be remembered for his portrayal of the world's favorite white terry cloth bathrobe wearing mafioso, but to me he was also a guy who could make ice melt with those limpid pools of deep brown love once he set them on you.

Oh.  Sorry.  I got a little lost there, didn't I?

From the time I could begin remembering, Mom carried a coin in her purse that she always said was her good luck charm.  All I knew was that it was about twice the size of a quarter and had a church on it.  I'm sure that she probably told me a thousand times where it came from, but all I heard was something about New York and a cathedral called St. John the Divine.  I don't know if Mom got the coin during a visit there, or if it was given to her by one of her brothers as a souvenir, but she carried that thing every day of her life and then it passed along to Aunt Chrissy and moi as our very own good luck charm.

Over the years, we've kind of passed it back and forth as a little secret way of bolstering each other up during tough times.  We've never actually said it aloud, but when the coin change hands there's an implicit "Boy, are things sure screwed up for you!" that necessitates the transfer of the coin and all of its hopeful good luck.

So as I was sitting and minding my very own business yesterday, Aunt Chrissy walked in and handed me the coin.  I figured that it was her way of saying "Snap out of it!", but instead she just let me hold it for a minute and then she told me that James Gandolfini would have his funeral in the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

And I bawled all over again.

OK.  I'm done now.  Sorry to let my crazy on the outside, kids, but it was getting pretty full in there and I'm almost afraid of the permanent damage that would have resulted from me going one more day with a smile plastered on my face and a simple "Fine, thank you.  How are you?" coming out of my mouth every time somebody in polite society asked me how I'm doing.  So, finally, we're moving on.

Stitching continues on the Rishfied canvas.  I'm concentrating on the center flower and hope to make some significant progress this weekend when we get together with some lady friends for a little Saturday afternoon stitch fest.  I'm so excited about it I can barely keep from prancing around, but I've promised Aunt Chrissy that I will take my medicine and not "be me" no matter how hard it might be to just fake a little normal for a few hours.
Is it just me, or does this look exactly like the progress pic that I posted nine months ago?


Stewey sends his love.  He has his very own obsession at the moment, so we're currently in an "all Liberace all the time" mode around these parts.  I swear, if I have to watch Behind the Candelabra one more time I'm going to break something.  When you combine that with the fact that I keep finding rhinestones all over the damn place, it's any wonder I haven't gone further round the bend.

 "Sorry, Mo-ther.  You've got your crazy obsessions and I've got mine.  Get over it already."

I hope that this finds y'all well and safe and happy and healthy and stitching to your heart's content. 

Can you believe that it's June already?

Jun 19, 2013

Jun 7, 2013


So there I was, minding my own business, when it kinda hit me smack dab between the eyeballs.  Instead of agonizing about how in the holy heck I'm going to stitch the leaves on this canvas, I decided to get started on the center flower.  And to do that, I decided to stitch the same cross-hatch stitch in the center so that it will be all matchy matchy and also come a bit forward.  I think that I'm going to stitch that purple loop do loop in the same stem stitch background as the yellow flowers in the outer border, and then the rest of the big flower will be tent stitch.  (Don't fret about the little black dots, kids.  I'm going to tart this sucker up to within an inch of its life with some pretty crystals and beads when it's all done, so those definitely won't get lost in the shuffle.)
Isn't it funny how inspiration strikes?  I find that morning shower time is the most productive, but if I go into said shower telling myself that I'm going to solve the mysteries of the universe...nothing.  But if I'm half asleep and not really quite human at o'dark hundred, KA-BAM!  I'm witty and urbane and smart and organized.  Ideas flow like water from Ye Olde Target showerhead, and before I've lathered, rinsed, and repeated, I'm on fire with brilliant-ness.

(Too bad I can't figure out how to make those few moments of mental clarity last throughout the day, or we'd really get stuff done around here.)

Methinks I'm going to plant my fanny in the Happy Chair with a Magic City marathon and some ice cold Cleveland water for sustenance today (*).   The laundry will still be there tomorrow, and I'm pretty sure that Mr. Fussypants would rather lounge in the sun than hide under the bed to get away from the Hoover.

Here's hoping that your weekend is exactly as fabulous as you want it to be!  Woo Hoo!

(*) Cleveland water:  When Aunt Chrissy and I were at the Cleveland Clinic, there was a big jar of water in the lobby filled with herbs and fruits and stuff.  (Remember that?  I kept making Aunt Chrissy drink it because I was convinced that it was magic and would fix whatever's wrong with her.)  Well, I've started a little tradition here at Chez Spinster whereby I fill a pitcher up each morning with lemons and limes and mint and basil and whatever else sounds good, and I try to sip on it all day.  And yes, before you ask...I scrub the lemons and limes and mint and basil thoroughly and use bottled water, so if this is going to end up killing me, it will only be from good intentions and not some crazyass pesticide that they're using on citrus these days to make it more citrus-like.
Happy, happy weekend, folks!  We'll see you on the other side!

Jun 5, 2013


My dear and special friends both far and near....

It seems that several weeks have passed since last we spoke, so I thought I would take a moment to put pen to paper (or paws to keyboard as the case may be) to say hello to my adoring fan club.

(Or as my stupid Mo-ther calls you...."sweet people who are kind enough to put up with the lunatic rantings of a portly spinster and her precocious little dog".)

But I digress...

Summer is upon us here in Spinster's Corners.  Although the temperatures are hovering in the 70's, we've managed to spend a fair amount of time outside enjoying some warmth and sunshine nonetheless.  Mo-ther and Aunt Chrissy have planted the usual garden and flower pots, and it would appear that this year will be no different in that Mo-ther will forget to tend to said garden and flower pots and Aunt Chrissy and I will be left to manage the inevitable hand wringing and complaining that will spew forth from the old lady's mouth once she realizes that she is not, in fact, Ina Garten or the nice lady in the movie It's Complicated, who seemed to grow basketball-sized tomatoes from the top of her straw hat.

I have been behaving myself admirably, but must confess that this is more the result of me spending 7 to 8 hours at a time in my apartment rather than any concerted effort on my part not to pee in the freshly laundered house.  Yes, you read that right.  My mo-ther finally got off her big fat heiney, and she took both the living room and dining rooms apart and scrubbed them to within an inch of their lives.  She even removed the lovely fabric skirts from the chairs that I had been using for "target practice" all these years, so now I am left with nowhere to hide and Glad wrapped chairs legs as a silent admonition not to even think about it.

Mo-ther is still stitching away on her Rishfeld canvas and has applied several thousand basketweave stitches to parts various and sundry.  She's seems perfectly happy to stick with this one, but I am very anxious to get her knee-deep into some cross stitch or other things before the dust settles on the studio stairway and we're unable to remember how to do anything other than simple tent stitch.

My Aunt Chrissy and Bosco are hanging in there and send their love as well.  On particularly bad days, my Aunt Chrissy is lifted up by your love and concern, and she wanted me to send you big fat kisses and a heartfelt thank you.  She will be well soon enough, and since we all seem to be made of hearty peasant stock around here, I suspect that all will be right with the world sooner than we think.

I do hope that this finds you well and that you know how much we love and appreciate you all.  I hope that your needles are flying, your families are thriving, and that until we meet again you remain happy and healthy and wealthy and wise.

With much love from your pal,

May 23, 2013


I'm having a love/hate relationship with my stitching efforts on the Rishfeld canvas.  There are moments when I look at the yellow flowers and think "Cool.  A little bit of dimension. With a lovely crystal in the center, these babies will really pop!"
Other times I wonder what in the h-e-double-toothpicks I was thinking.
So I've decided to finish those last two in the upper left and then move on to another mo-teef.  Then, when the whole kit and caboodle has been completed, I can decide if the yellow flower "let's just do a few random stem stitches" idea will stay or go.
How's things in YOUR neck of the woods?

May 21, 2013


We're adding our thoughts and prayers to those of the rest of the world for you, Oklahoma (and elsewhere if you've been hit by Mother Nature).    I'm so sorry for it all...the loss of life, of home, of community...all of it.  I pray that you can find one small moment of peace or comfort in the coming days.

Small progress on the Rishfield canvas...

May 13, 2013


My baby dear turned eight years old today.  Seems like just yesterday he was but a wee little two-pound bundle of love peeing in his playpen.  Now he's a wee little nine-pound bundle of love peeing on the drapes.

Damnit, I love this dog!

Happy Birthday, bubbala.  Mommie loves you.  Truly.  I do.

May 12, 2013


My Mo-ther can't come to the blog right now.  She's snoring away in the big girl sleigh bed while I am left to my own devices with this computer and a few pesky squirrels at the bird feeders for company.  I realize that it has been quite a long while since last we spoke, so I hope that this finds you hale and hearty, my dear friends.

Happy Mother's Day to one and all on behalf of spoiled little pups like myself.  (Did I really just say that?  Could it be that I'm turning a new leaf and am realizing that I really do have a pretty good gig here with the old lady and all of her crazy notions of what it takes to raise a "uniquely interesting individual" such as myself?  Have I come to appreciate the fact that, while completely clueless, my stupid Mo-ther always comes from a place of love, even if the end result is usually something that makes me want to tear my little white fluffy hairs out?  Am I learning to be loving and grateful for the happy home that she's bumbleclucked her way into creating?)


Here is some progress on the Rishfield canvas that Mo-ther started at the beginning of the year.  As you can see, she's completed stitching all of the white flowers, and has added a lovely elongated cross border in between the green and red sections and on the perimeter.  Methinks this will be quite lovely once completed, provided the old lady doesn't go totally off her nut and do something crazy like apply felt daisies to the damn thing.

We're off to a quiet Sunday. My Aunt Chrissy and pesky cousin Bosco will arrive shortly for a marathon session of stitching, snacking, and Game of Throning.  We seem to have finally fallen into a pattern of "Sissy Sundays" that makes my mom's heart positively sing, so I suppose we had better keep doing it for the duration if we expect to keep any peace and quiet around here.

I hope that you know that until we meet again I remain your loyal and devoted friend.  To all of the mothers out there in Blogville, I wish you a most heartfelt Happy Mother's Day and all that comes with it.

With much love from your pal,

May 10, 2013


******Sorry, kids.  I see that I probably should not have violated the whole thing about politics, sex, or religion.....I was just surprised that the Pope His Very Self was throwin' shade at spinsters.

(Don't you just love how I'm all hip with the lingo suddenly?  I KNEW watching all these Real Housewives would finally pay off!!!!)

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Wednesday (May 8) told leaders of women’s orders from around the world to be “fertile” spiritual mothers in the Catholic Church, not “spinsters.”
tiPope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter's Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. World leaders flew in for Pope Francis' inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square on Tuesday where Latin America's first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power.  RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini
Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. World leaders flew in for Pope Francis’ inauguration Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday where Latin America’s first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

The Argentine pontiff addressed some 800 leaders of female religious orders who are in Rome for the meeting of the International Union of Superiors General.
Speaking about the nuns’ vow of chastity, the pope stressed that it must be a “fertile” chastity, generating “spiritual children in the Church.”
With one of the more colorful off-the-cuff expressions that have become a hallmark of his young pontificate, Francis said that “the consecrated are mothers: they must be mothers and not ‘spinsters’!”
“Forgive me if I talk like this, but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness, is important!” he added.
Echoing a theme that has often resonated in his public speeches, the Jesuit pope also lashed out against “careerists” and “social climbers” who “use the Church … as a springboard for their interests and personal ambitions,” saying they do a “great damage” to the church.
The Vatican-mandated overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the largest umbrella organization for U.S. nuns, loomed large over the May 3-7 meeting of Catholic sisters, which is devoted to discussing the issues of authority within the Catholic Church.
On Sunday, Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, who heads the Vatican office that oversees religious orders, told the meeting that he had been left in the dark about the Vatican investigation into LCWR. The Vatican’s top spokesman on Tuesday said it was “not justified” to infer that there was a “divergence” on how to deal with American nuns.
In his Wednesday speech, the pope reminded the nuns that it is “absurd” for religious women to think of carrying their vocation “outside of the church.”
“It isn’t possible that a consecrated woman or man might ‘feel’ themselves not to be with the church,” he said.
After the pope’s speech, a group of nuns was allowed to briefly greet the pope personally. Sister Florence Deacon, president of the LCWR, “was present at the audience but did not have the opportunity to greet the pope,” according to LCWR spokeswoman Annmarie Sanders.