Friday, December 31, 2010

Noel Letters are Finished! Welcome Gus!

Today I finished beading the letters in Noel. It took two full tubes of beads and just a few from a third tube to complete the letters. I spent a week of dedicated beading on the letters. The beading lends so much texture and dimension to the canvas - well worth a week's work.

Ruth has lots of fun planned for the bottom red border and I'll get started on that tonight or tomorrow depending on how interesting I find the Chick-Fil-A Bowl tonight.  Would love to see South Carolina win - apologies to fans of FSU! I hate to see SEC college football come to an end for the year.

This morning I dealt with the not-so-fun part of Christmas - the dismantling of the Christmas decorations. Andrew was home for a short 24 hours earlier this week and he helped me put away the decorations that had to go to the attic. What's left to do now is find a place downstairs for all of this:

Basically I end up finding places here and there to store these things until next year and hope that I remember where I put them when Christmas rolls around again.

My new friend, Sarcoph A Gus, arrived late yesterday afternoon via the big brown truck. He will be magnificent - the majority of the outer sarcophagus is beaded! I thought three tubes of beads for the Noel canvas was a lot but Gus has it beat. There are 12 colors of beads for this canvas.

As you can see Sarcoph A Gus is on the stretchers and the stitch guide is ready for the notebook. I gathered all the required threads together last night from the previous characters' kits. I haven't quite decided where to start - bottom border or the mummy himself. Amy and Kelly have worked their magic again with this canvas.

Have you see the January newsletter from Amy's? It's always so fun to read and there is so much great information inside. I loved the "article" on our next character, Dev L Mann. Did you know he'll be wearing an asbestos pant suit? Too funny! I enjoyed seeing Caron's 4 finished Halloweenies. She finished hers as easel-back stand-ups. Good job, Caron! Jill gave us a great "how to" tutorial on finishing
a personalized tote bag. Amy has added another Melissa Shirley banner to her Home Study series for next year. Another decision to make - stitch the Thanksgiving banner or the Christmas banner, or stitch both?

Not too many hours left until we say goodbye to 2010. Stitch-wise, I don't think I have ever finished so many projects as I have this year. The Halloweenies have been challenging and lots of fun and just the right size project for me. These characters pretty much pushed all other projects to the sidelines. While I hate to see the Halloweenies come to an end, it will be nice to pick up some stitching that has been put aside for the last year.

I have a standing rib roast in the oven tonight for my New Year's Eve dinner - it smells so good! My plans for the evening include football, more football, and lots of stitching. I hope whatever you have planned is festive and safe.

Thank you for supporting my blogging these last six months! I look forward to more blogging this coming year and would love to think that maybe I will actually get to meet some of you in person this year!

See you in 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

My holidays started out like this on Thursday as I prepared to drive to Jacksonville for Christmas:

The back seat was similarly packed as was the front passenger seat. I had a pleasantly uneventful drive to Jacksonville. I had my iPod with me and listened to podcasts of interviews with authors such as Jeffrey Archer, Ken Follett, Daniel Silva, Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman), and Pat Conroy. I didn't know until recently that Barnes & Noble has such an extensive list of author interviews available for download on iTunes - and they are all free!

We had a lovely day yesterday - lots of gifts and great food! We feasted on standing rib roast, squash casserole, broccoli rice casserole, and the best mashed potatoes that Anna made with sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and chives. Anna's mom made a beautiful apple pie and we also had a sinfully good peppermint bark cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory.

I have to tell you about my special gift from Andrew and Anna. I don't think I have ever been reduced to tears over a Christmas gift before, but I have now. Andrew gave me a large, very light gift to unwrap. He had dropped hints on Christmas Eve about having to assemble my gift so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. What I didn't expect upon opening the gift was to find a gift certificate for Rent Amy for a Day! Can you believe it?  Do they know me or what? I get to spend a whole day with Amy! I can't imagine a more wonderful, thoughtful gift. Andrew and Anna are even talking about taking the road trip with me to Memphis whenever we work out the schedule with Amy. Details to follow....

I have had some time to sit and stitch on Noel this weekend so I've made some progress on the beading.

The third and final lesson in the Mystery Class arrived just as I was leaving on Thursday. There were all kinds of fun things in the package - green jingle bells and cute buttons that will be added to the bottom border. I appreciate the designer of Noel, Beth Gantz, dropping by to comment on the blog last week. Beth and Ruth are make for a talented combo!

While I've been in Jacksonville, I have actually missed some snow in Augusta! I think it could probably be described as a dusting - but snow, nonetheless. I hope all my stitching friends along the east coast have all the food and drink they need and don't have to leave the house for the next couple of days. Sounds like you're going to be hit with a big storm! Be careful!

Hope you all had the best of Christmases with your families and friends.  I know I did!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Little Christmas Stitching

This week I put away the Haunted House (apologies to my fellow Halloweenie stitchers) in favor of working on my Noel canvas which is one of Ruth Schmuff's current mystery classes. You should see what she has planned for the bottom section in red. She gave a clue (at least for the Jingle canvas) in her email blast that arrived today. It involves jingle bells. I just don't know if the Noel canvas will have the same embellishments.

I finished the background of blackwork last night and am now ready to start on the letters. You see those three tubes of beads in the lower right of the canvas? That's what I have in my stitching future - at least until Sarcoph A. Gus arrives. Thank goodness for Pay Per View as movies kept me going through the work on the background. I finally watched Sex and the City 2 - all two and half hours of it. I had read disappointing reviews of it but thought that it couldn't really be that bad. I was wrong. It's that bad. Any movie that has you wondering how much longer until it's over is not one you will be singing the praises of. It's ironic that in this movie about women, I liked the men (Mr. Big and Aiden) more than I liked the girls. Glad I didn't waste more than $4.99 on this movie.

The second movie I watched was the Disney version of A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey. Gosh, I hope parents didn't take their little children to see this - it was scary! Well done, but scary.

And then I watched Love Actually. I love that movie and watch it throughout the year even when it's not Christmas. I love the actors, the music, the scenery - everything about it.

I may not post again until after Christmas, so let me take this opportunity to wish you all the merriest of Christmases. I will be with Andrew and Anna and hope that you, too, will be with the people you love most. Hope Santa brings you everything you wished for!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Food Network Overload

This weekend I've watched Giada in Aspen, Ina in London, Sandra in her white winter wonderland, how candy canes are made, how honey-baked hams are glazed, how Sara Lee makes 4.5 million pumpkin pies a year, not to mention Aarti's vanilla and black pepper pork loin. I think I gained ten pounds just watching tv! So you would think I could have made sugar cookies and icing from scratch this afternoon. But, no, Betty Crocker was my go-to girl for the cookie mix and the icing. On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being absolutely delicious), I would give Betty's sugar cookie mix a 2.

The icing tastes like birthday cake icing from the bakery. My problem with the icing is that it doesn't harden. So, I have several plates full of cookies with soft, gooey icing which, if covered with foil or wrap, will be ruined. How many cookies can I eat this evening?  The other cookies on the plate in the photo are cheese straws. I made those on Saturday.

I wish I had some needlepoint to show you but there has been so little progress made on any of my projects that it wasn't even worth a picture. It would pretty much look like whatever I showed you last week. My second lesson for the Noel mystery project arrived this week. All of the letters will be beaded. Lots of beading - 3 tubes worth - but from what I see of the finished 2nd lesson, it will be well worth the extra work. As for the Haunted House, it's been too cold to work (at least that's my excuse). I have finished the balustrade on the left side of the house and can now start the wall area below it.

As I am writing this at about 6:30 PM EST, our outside temperature is right at 32 degrees. At 2:30 this afternoon it was 54 degrees. It was already windy today but now that the cold front has moved through, the winds have really increased. These colder temps have really slowed down my stitching at night. All I want to do after dinner is get under my down blanket with the Kindle and read until I fall asleep.

Hope you all have a good week - stay warm and get that shopping finished!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Literary Bliss - Just for a Night

I was a happy camper last night. I got to spend the evening with Anna and Andrew and Pat Conroy. I love Pat. I don't think there's a writer who puts two words together better than he does. He was at Neptune Beach (Jacksonville Beach) last night at The Bookmark to sign copies of My Reading Life, his newest non-fiction book. I feel a connection to him that I really can't put into words. Maybe it's that he writes about places I have known for most of my life.

I stood in line for an hour and a half waiting to speak to him and have my books signed. He is such a gentleman, very kind and gracious. He told me about getting lost trying to find the Borders in Augusta last year and getting lost again upon leaving Borders. I bought Andrew and Anna a hardback copy of The Great Santini which he personalized for them: To Andrew and Anna, for love of family, Pat Conroy. For my copy of My Reading Life, he signed: To Melinda, for love of story, Pat Conroy. He spent time with each person as he signed their book and engaged everyone in conversation. That's so unusual these days. Most book signings are very regimented - one book only, no personalizations, no photos, etc. Not much more than a chance to say hello and move on. While the book signing was very non-regimented and an "anything goes" type of event, it made for a long evening waiting for him to have a little quality time with his fans. He would sign as many books as you put in front of him.

It was fun to see the festive holiday lights at Jacksonville Beach last night. The cold (very cold) air and the lights, good food at Ragtime, the holiday decorated small shops, and the company of Andrew and Anna made for a really wonderful evening. I was sorry to have to drive back home again this morning! But my Little Girl is glad to have her momma home with her this afternoon.

Another frigid night here in South. Stay warm wherever you are!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Slow Start to the Construction But There's a Plan

I enjoyed pulling out the Haunted House from its pillowcase and seeing that I have actually made progress on this project. Not enough progress to be caught up with where we start with Kit #4, but enough to not feel too discouraged. I think my stitching plan for December will be to concentrate on the lower half of the canvas. Yesterday I started in on the balustrade with all of its accompanying partially detached needleweaving.

The needleweaving moves along at a nice pace. I stitched the left section yesterday while I watched the disaster (for South Carolina) that was the Auburn/Carolina football game. This afternoon I'll work on the right balustrade and then start in on the raised stem stitch for the top of the balustrade. Amy gives us a nice outline for working this portion of the canvas. I'm looking forward to stitching the arched pillars on the first floor but want to complete the second floor balustrade first.

The UPS man snuck up on me Thursday night and left some packages at the door that I didn't see until Friday morning as I was backing down the driveway. Glad it didn't rain that night! One of the packages was from Ruth Schmuff and it contained this:

Ada Haydon's Winter Tree Canvas along with the November/December issue of Needlepoint Now where you will find the stitch guide. What a perfect project for the dreary winter doldrums - lots of sparkly color to boost your spirits - hot pink, orange, turquoise, lime green. 

That's what the big brown truck brought me on Thursday. The Mail Man brought me this on Friday:

Kelly Clark's First Thanksgiving canvas with the stitch guide. This was my eBay purchase last week. I'll have to purchase the threads but that won't be difficult to do. There were five or six accompanying canvases to this "background" canvas. It was hard to decide which of them I was going to bid on but I eventually decided on this one.

When I walked through the floral department at the grocery store last week and saw all the Christmas cactus on display, I was reminded to go out in the backyard and bring mine inside. Every April, once the chance of a frost has passed, I take my cactus outside and put them under the Japanese Magnolia and hydrangeas where they get shade all summer. And there they stay until the first of December when Mother Nature works her miracle and I bring them out of the bushes covered in blooms. Thought you might like to see one of them in this morning's sunlight in the kitchen.

These have always been one of my favorite seasonal flowers. I would much rather have these at Christmas than a poinsettia.

While I'm sharing favorite Christmas things, I want to show you my most favorite Christmas ornament. He's Nutcracker Crunch by Christopher Radko. He has the place of honor in my dining room on a bed of ornaments.

Last but not least is my new Christmas favorite this year. My Santa Man in the Moon pin. I have always wanted a really special Christmas pin and I have finally found it.

There are all sorts of wonderful little charms that make up his beard - candy canes, Christmas trees, packages, stockings, nutcrackers. I just love him - he makes me happy. I told Andrew and Anna that they will have to watch me because the older I get, the more sparkly I like things. But, if you can't be sparkly at Christmas when can you?

Hope your holiday decorating and shopping is going well or almost finished! Save some time for stitching1

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where's My Hardhat?

It's construction time again in the Halloweenies world as the next phase of the Haunted House begins this week. My threads and stitch guide arrived from Amy's today. There is so much to be done! All of it fun and interesting, mind you, but just a lot to do. Looking through the stitch guide reminded me that I still have a lot to catch up on from Kit #3. In kit #4, we'll get to apply false eyelashes to someone's big eye on the canvas and learn to make a hangman's noose. My canvas has been safely tucked away since the end of September so it will be fun to get it out again. I remember thinking when I put it away that I had really made some nice progress on it. Hope I still think that tomorrow!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I spent my holiday with the newlyweds in Jacksonville and we had a fun time as always. Anna and I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for the three of us and it couldn't have turned out better. We had already had one huge Thanksgiving meal at her grandparents' house earlier in the day but we still found room for our own turkey, dressing, rice and gravy, squash casserole, spinach and cheese squares, and Sister Schubert rolls that evening. To quote Rachel Ray, "Delish!".

I got a little bit of stitching done over Thanksgiving. I took my XOXO project with me to work on. It had been a while since I worked on it but I did complete the third stripe and started on the fourth. It's a fun project as are all of the & more canvases. I particularly like the dimension that the stitch in the third stripe adds to the canvas. Here's a picture of my progress:

My Mystery Class Noel canvas arrived on Monday from Ruth Schmuff. Very cute and looks to be a fairly quick stitching project (unless you are stitching 5 other things at the same time). I love the way Ruth packages her threads in fun, festive bags.  I really felt like I was opening a gift for myself when it arrived - it was that festive. Here's a quick look:

I must thank Robin for including a photo of my Halloween mantle in the December issue of Amy's newsletter. There's lots of good information (as always) in the newsletter and a great look at our next Halloweenie character coming in January.

That's it for tonight. I've still got work to do and some deadlines to meet, so there won't be any stitching tonight. Next time I'll have some photos of the construction work. Have a good week!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Full Moon Tomorrow Night - W. Herr Wolfe is on the Prowl!!

Yes, the moon is full on Sunday night and W. Herr Wolfe is off the stretchers and ready to roam. I began Herr Wolfe right after October's full moon and finished him last night just in time for the November full moon. Here he is in all his finished, ferocious glory.

What fun he was to stitch! I miss him already! This week I took care of the small details such as the beading on his belt, his buttons and button holes, and the "X's" background. I enjoyed the "X" background. It isn't a mindless background because it does require careful counting but once you are get into the rhythm of it, it's very enjoyable.

The two friends are re-united and will be cooling their heels in Augusta until after the first of the year when they go to visit Marlene in San Francisco.

Construction begins again on the Haunted House in a few more days. In the meantime, I think I will work on the Fall Tree by Ada Haydon (see the September/October 2010 issue of Needlepoint Now). The bright, bold colors that Ruth Schmuff has pulled together for this project are really calling my name.

I went to an early, 9:00 AM class on Holiday Decorating at Cudos this morning. Got some wonderful fresh ideas for decorating around the house. It's so easy to decorate in the same way year after year. I don't know how many years in a row I have lined my mantle with my collection of Santas. It always looks nice but it's time to do something different this year. I think that for this year's Christmas mantle I'll focus on my mother's Herend green Chinese Bouquet soup tureen. I bought some beautiful red, green, and gold beaded ornaments to fill the tureen and add some sparkle to the mantle. We'll see how it develops.

My Christmas needlepoint is sorely lacking. I have some Melissa Shirley Nativity stand-ups which I will show you at some point during the holiday season. And that's it. Perhaps once the Halloweenies are finished I can turn my attention to catching up on my Christmas stitching.

I'll leave you with a link to a recipe I just tried - Nantucket Cranberry Pie.  It is so simple and so absolutely delicious! It really is a cross between pie and cake. There isn't a pie crust per se but more like a crusty sweet cake on top of the cranberries. The cake batter is flavored with almond extract which is a favorite flavoring of mine. The whole house smells like almond sweetness right now. I wouldn't ordinarily eat a dessert like this in the middle of the afternoon but there was no way I was letting a warm pie that smells this good go without eating until this evening. Thanks to the Pioneer Woman for this great recipe! And, she beat Bobby Flay in the Thanksgiving Throwdown this week on Food Network. If you don't know who the Pioneer Woman is, just take a few minutes and explore her blog/website. She's the best! I read her blog(s) everyday and never fail to find something to laugh about or a recipe I want to try. In fact, I may need to go have another piece of her Nantucket Cranberry Pie right now!

I wish a very happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Take some time this week in the midst of all the cleaning and cooking and preparations for Thanksgiving and remember to think about all that you're thankful for. I'm thankful for all of my new stitching friends who are stopping by the blog and leaving kind, supportive comments. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fierce but Friendly

I had such fun this week stitching W. Herr Wolfe's face and fur. I loved seeing his face come to life with each color and stitch. I think he's probably more friendly than he is fierce, don't you think?

I'll be finishing up the green French knot ground cover this evening which will allow me to go ahead and complete the bottom straight line borders. I practiced a few of the twisted Lazy Daisy stitches to be used on the pumpkin stems and found that I need to practice a little more. I didn't have a problem with them when we used them on Stirha's logs under her cauldron but, since we are using a different thread this time,  my threads aren't stacking up like I want them to. 

My Autumn Trees canvas arrived from Ruth Schmuff this week. What fun this canvas is going to be! I love the thread kit as much as I love the canvas - hot pinks, oranges, reds, Swarovski  sequins and beads - it's so colorful!

Andrew and Anna were here for the weekend and are, sadly, on their way back to Jacksonville. Anna and I had fun yesterday attending a Christmas tree decorating workshop at a local store, Cudos. Their head buyer/store decorator gave a great hour-long demonstration of different tree decorating techniques. It was pretty amazing and so interesting to see how all of those "professionally" decorated trees in the stores get that way. Here's the top one third of a tree that we were shown how to decorate yesterday -

There are no ornaments in this upper part of the tree - just floral picks with either sparkly greenery or glittery green and red stars and balls. The bright green object on the upper left is a lighted top hat. There were some color co-ordinating lighted gift boxes scattered throughout the rest of the tree. The decorator's advice was not to "overthink" the decorating - just go for it! He told us that he lives in a small 2 bedroom bungalow and has a total of 13 Christmas trees decorating his house. Can you imagine?  He has one Christopher Radko tree that has about 300 ornaments on it! All of the decorations used on the trees in Cudos are available for purchase but it's a little overwhelming trying to decide which ones to add to the decorations you already have. I'll have to go back when the store is a little less crowded. Andrew brought all of my decorations down from the attic so I can begin the decorating process any day now or at least the planning process. When do you start your Christmas decorating? Or have you already decorated?

Hope you all have a great week and find some time for stitching!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween Isn't Over, Is It?

Well, the calendar says Halloween is over, but in my little stitching world, Halloween never ends. There are still three Halloweenie characters to finish and a Haunted House as well. Then there is my "boo' canvas waiting in the wings and the autumn trees from Ruth Schmuff that will arrive any day now. Can't forget the two Halloween-themed ribbon candy canvases by Melissa Shirley, either. One of these years I will get around to a Christmas theme - my Christmas needlepoint is severely lacking!

I put away the Halloween decorations today and had the same feeling that I usually have in January when the Christmas decorations are packed away for the year. The house looks so empty! But, just for a couple of weeks and then I can decorate for Christmas. Poor Thanksgiving gets lost (decoration-wise) between Halloween and Christmas.

I may try to remedy that situation in part by signing up for Amy's 2011 home study featuring Melissa Shirley's Thanksgiving banner. You can see the Thanksgiving canvas here. Very cute!

In the Halloweenies world, W. Herr Wolfe is pleased to have the major work on his pants and jacket finished and his tombstone, too. This afternoon I'll get started on his face. The stitching on this character seems to be moving along more quickly than some of the others. Hope you're finding the same thing in your stitching as well. Here's the werewolf's latest photo:

Why is it that you take a photo of your stitching and all of your mis-stitches (for lack of a better term) immediately pop out at you? Is it the different lighting? Or is it a case of looking at something so much while you stitch it that you really don't see it anymore? Does that make sense? There are a couple of places in the stitched areas that bother me (but not enough to make me want to rip them out and start over) that I didn't notice until I took the current photo.  I suppose we are our own worst critic!

That's it from a chilly Augusta - 33 degrees and a light frost this morning! Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Bride and Groom Return Home and Other News

Bridezilla and her Groom returned home yesterday! What a wonderful surprise! They're sorry they missed Halloween but it was a low key one around here anyway, so they didn't miss much. But, I'm thrilled that they are back! Marlene worked her magic again and they make a lovely couple.

They were anxious to see Stirha and Frank and renew their longtime friendship. Everyone posed on the mantle for a family portrait.

Seeing the four of them together made me realize that the mantle will be a crowded place once all of the Halloweenies are finished.

The UPS man has no idea how happy he made me yesterday! Not only did he bring me the wonderful package from Marlene, but he brought me a package with this in it from Amy's:

I resisted this canvas as long as I could (which wasn't very long if the truth is told). I'll finish the XOXO canvas first before starting this one, I promise. I love these striped canvases by & more. So much fun! Check out the snazzy zebra print tissue paper that my goodies were wrapped in!

The other highlight of my day was finding out that Pat Conroy has a new book - My Reading Life - and that he will be in Jacksonville (Neptune Beach, actually) on December 7th for a book signing. Guess where I will be? My Reading Life is a work of non-fiction for Conroy and is about the books and characters that have influenced him in some way or another. I downloaded My Reading Life onto my Kindle this morning and am looking forward to a nice cup of Tazo Chai Tea as I sit down to begin reading it this afternoon. Conroy says that he will never own a Kindle - he likes the way real books feel, look, and smell. I do, too, but I wish he would give it a try. Even though I have downloaded the new book, I'll be buying the hard copy as soon as I can get my hands on one.

I think I should probably go do some work. Too many needlepoint and book distractions today!

I voted - did you?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Boo, y'all! Hope your Halloween weekend has been a wonderful one - mine has! I just drove home from Jacksonville where I spent the weekend with Andrew and Anna and their kitties, Buddy and Elvis. While I hated to leave all of them, I needed to get home to my own Little Girl who spent the weekend home alone. She (and the house) seem none the worse for the wear. She is an indoor/outdoor cat, so for her to spend the entire weekend inside by herself is quite a change. At the moment, she's happily lounging in the sun on her favorite chair on the patio.

We were an unhappy group Saturday afternoon at the conclusion of the Georgia-Florida game. Our Bulldogs lost in overtime. This afternoon I think I was passed on I-95 by every Georgia fan heading north out of Jacksonville who attended the game. I've never seen so many silver, black, and red cars decorated in everything imaginable that featured a bulldog or the Georgia "G".

W. Herr Wolfe didn't get to make the trip to Jacksonville this weekend, but I took a photo of my progress Friday morning before I left home.

I think I made some nice progress last week. My work schedule has eased up recently so I had more time and more energy to devote to stitching. I love the pumpkins as always, especially the one on the left since we haven't used that stitch before. The darker pumpkin has such rich colors which look great next to the blue pants and green jacket. In Amy's Tips in the stitch guide, she notes that the fabrics are supposed to have a thick, coarse look to them. I think she certainly achieved that look with the stitches and threads she chose for the jacket and pants. Both stitches move along easily. For the pants, once I had stitched the initial dark lines in continental, I chose to start the main stitch for the pants with the continental stitch portion of the pattern. It just made it easier for me to see where I needed to go with the pattern. Tonight I look forward to settling in with the stitching on the upper portion of the jacket.

Don't miss Amy's November newsletter that was just posted. There's lots to read about our Halloweenies project. I must go out and buy the eyelashes for use in the next phase of the Haunted House. Have you bought yours yet? Be sure to check out Colleen's photos of her finished Halloweenies - they look great!

Speaking of finished projects, look what was waiting for me when I returned home:

Marlene did another great job with my "merry christmas" canvas which I purchased from Amy's last year. The fabric is a small white on white stripe with a pale green cording around the pillow. The cording around the needlepoint itself is red, green, and white. It looks so beautiful on my white sofa in the living room but it will be just as pretty on my white bedspread in my pale green bedroom.

Bridezilla and her groom didn't make it into the box from Marlene's. I had not really expected them to but I hope it won't be long until they return home.

Hope you have a great week and I hope no tricks are played on any of us tonight!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Goodnight Dr. Acula, May You Rest In Peace

Say goodnight to Dr. Acula as he prepares to find a nice dark place to rest while his friend, W. Herr Wolff, steps up for his time in the spotlight.

I finished Dr. A on Saturday after receiving some last minute beading suggestions from Amy. I appreciate Amy and Robin trying to help with my struggles with the peyote beading on the coffin handles. But, as you will see from the photo above, despite Amy's attempt to help, I was unable to stitch the coffin handles in the peyote beading technique called for in the stitch guide. I could never get my beads to stack correctly or get the tension correct. After a total of about three hours spent on the beading and being unhappy with each attempt, I finally decided to just go with the string of beads on the two rows. I think it looks perfectly acceptable and much better than if I had continued with the peyote beading. The coffin handles rank right up there with Frank's pants on the frustration meter. Both defeated me!

On the other hand, there was so much I loved about stitching this character. I loved the shading and stitches on the coffin itself and the knobs. I think Dr. A's kitty is adorable in her matching coffin with the green lining. I also really enjoyed stitching the puffy orange lining of Dr. A's coffin. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I was surprised at how prominent the candelabra became in the scene once it was stitched. I was glad we had some previous experience (Haunted House) with the stitch for the candelabra
before tackling it. The other element that I enjoyed was the background stitch. I could have kept going with the X's!

So, many thanks to Kelly Clark for another great Halloweenie design and to Amy for creating a wonderful stitch guide and thread selection!

Now, it's on to our werewolf friend. Despite the fact that I didn't get started on him until after the full moon had passed, W. Herr Wolff is pretty pleased with the moonlit nights we have been experiencing lately. We stayed up late last night stitching the bottom border and waited until this morning to add the moons and stars.

I'm not thrilled with the moons I stitched and the stars are just ok. I think I would have preferred using the moon and stars charms that Robin used on Katt Z. Witch. The second border is moving along very quickly - always a nice thing!

We have had another beautiful weekend here in eastern Georgia. I've spent the greater part of the afternoon on the patio. An added advantage to that is that I haven't had to listen to the phone ring with one robo-call after another from all the candidates running for office. Election day can't come soon enough - in so many respects!

If I go back inside, I may give in to the temptation of fixing the Betty Crocker Chocolate Molten Lava mini cakes. It was one of the Buy One, Get One Free items at Publix this week. I have had hard time passing up the BOGO items.

Well, that's it for me. Hope you all have a great week and squeeze in some quality stitching time!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Have You Been to the Pumpkin Patch Yet?

Or are you waiting for the Great Pumpkin to pay a visit? It won't be long now!

This is the pumpkin patch at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I would take any of these glass pumpkins home. They were available for purchase in the garden shop - about $200 each. Not surprisingly, I didn't take any home with me!

Night time in my kitchen when the lights are off and only the candle is lit.

I'm off to go work on the last little bit that needs to be finished on Dr. Acula. Check back tomorrow where hopefully we will all see a finished photo of Dr. A. It's too beautiful a Saturday to sit inside and stitch so Dr. Acula is going out into the sunlight one more time. It's really killing him, though. Just kidding, no vampires were hurt in this stitching project.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dr. Acula Caught Out in the Broad Daylight!

What was I thinking taking the good Dr. A out in the broad daylight this afternoon? I was thinking that it was too beautiful an afternoon to spend inside stitching the background for Dr. A! We had the most beautiful weekend and I tried to spend as much of it outside as I could. I had to bring work home again and fortunately it was work that could be done at the table on the patio.

For background entertainment, the annual air show that takes place at the airport about a half mile from my house was in full gear all afternoon yesterday and today. I have seen lots of airplane acrobatics, a precision flying team, and parachutists without leaving the comfort of my own patio. I didn't see this,  but I did hear/feel the jet truck that roars down a runway at 325 miles an hour racing (and beating) a plane flying above it. This is one of those events that always signals the fall season for me. It makes me a little wistful, too, as it was a tradition for my father to take my son to the air show. My father passed away several years ago and my son is now grown and has moved away to Jacksonville. But, the air show keeps on going!

You are probably growing weary of reading that I haven't made much progress on Dr. Acula. I continue to think that my work schedule will slow down but I suppose it really won't until college football begins to wind down. I can't remember if I told you that I work for a company that produces a novelty product for the collegiate market. We're thankful to be so busy, but really! All this work is cutting in to my stitching time!

Dr. A survived his trip outside in the daylight but is much happier to be back in the house. He isn't accustomed to be stitched in daylight hours, especially outside. I'm making progress on the background and would love to think that I'll finish that part this week. I keep forgetting all of the beading that needs to be done for the coffin handles. There are little bits and pieces of other things to be finished - hands, Rhett Reviens, single line borders, and the big spider web in the upper right corner. Nothing major but it all adds up. W. Herr Wolfe is being very patient as he awaits his turn to be stitched.

I spoke to Marlene in San Francisco on Friday about my "merry christmas" pillow. We talked about the finishing and decided to go with a white on white striped fabric and red/green/white cording. We also talked about Bridezilla and the Groom (the honeymoon continues, I hear). They will be coming home from San Francisco soon! She couldn't promise them in time for Halloween, but that's ok.

Another weekend is drawing to a close. Can you believe October will be drawing to a close soon, too? Gosh, that means Christmas can't be far away! Oh, dear!

Have a good week every one!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Closing In

I couldn't decide whether to title this post "Finish Line in Sight" or "Closing In" but finally went with "Closing In" as I am finally closing in on finishing Dr. A. What with great SEC football yesterday afternoon and catching up on The Real Housewives of DC and Rubicon this afternoon, I planted myself in front of the television for the last two days and gave Dr. A my (mostly) undivided attention. Since I last posted I have completed his cape, suit, candelabra, grass, and most of the two bottom borders.

The impact of the candelabra on the canvas took me by surprise. I had not expected it to have such a presence - not that it's bad or anything, but the size of it seems so much larger stitched than it did unstitched. I particularly like the stitch "construction" of the candelabra. The crescent stitch on the candelabra arms had me remarking to Dr. A that Amy is one clever lady. It's a perfect stitch for that area.

I have a little bit of the lavender border to finish tonight and then will work on finishing the spiders and adding their webs. With any luck, I could finish Dr. A this week. W. Herr Wolfe is calling to me to hurry up!

I thought I would share with you one of my other Halloween decorations. This witchy kitty is a Jim Shore Heartwood Creek piece I have had for a few years. She is sitting within the black feather wreath I bought at Target last year. She's holding a lantern that has a small battery operated candle inside. I found some tiny, battery-operated amber colored lights at QVC that work on a timer and so at night she is surrounded by little lights. I love these lights because you can set them to come on when you want and they stay on for 6 hours and turn themselves off. I put the other set on the black branches on my mantle with my other Halloween decorations.

Time to get back to the lavender border - the weekend is about to slip away and my free time with it!  I want to wish my Canadian stitching friends a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! Eat some turkey for me!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Autumn at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Andrew, Anna, and I spent some time on Sunday morning at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. We couldn't have had a nicer day - crystal clear skies, a light breeze, and temps in the upper 60's! The gardens were decked out for the fall and Halloween. Their special exhibit right now centers around chocolate - everything from cultivation of the cacao tree to the finished product. When you walk into the Visitor's Center, you are enveloped in the scent of chocolate. That's a great way to start a visit anywhere, don't you think?

Andrew took lots of pictures and I wanted to share a few of them with you.

I was so happy to see the Dale Chihuly piece still in the fountain. It must have been purchased following the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit in 2004.

These pumpkin topiaries (I think that's what you would call them) are so cute and I am seriously thinking about copying them - on a smaller scale - in the two planters at my front steps. I think you could get a piece of iron rebar or something similar at Home Depot and impale (!) the pumpkins and gourds on it and place it in the pot. Don't you think it would last outside until Thanksgiving?

If my knee had not been bothering me, I would have walked over to another part of the garden and been able to see this fabulous cornucopia in person. I'm glad Andrew and Anna got to see it. Look at all the glass pumpkins and gourds! You could buy smaller versions of these in the garden gift store. I resisted the temptation and it was the hardest thing I did all day.

The pumpkin patch featured glass pumpkins as well.

This steel sculpture with the glass pears is another favorite of mine.

I'll leave you with this incredible orchid photo. The color combination was unbelievable. I wish I could tell you the name of this orchid, but I didn't see its label. The conservatory is filled with many exotic plants just like this one.

If I lived in Atlanta, I would surely be a member of the Botanical Garden. It's such a lovely, peaceful place in the middle of the city. It would be a great place to escape when the traffic and the hustle and bustle of the city becomes too much. Hope you enjoyed this little escape with me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stash Enhancement

I just returned home from a great weekend in Atlanta with my son, Andrew, and daughter-in-law, Anna. Andrew was in his BMW blogging/photographer mode at the Petite LeMans north of Atlanta on Saturday where he spent the day photographing the race and the BMW racing team in particular. Anna and I spent the day shopping at Lenox Mall and had a delicious dinner at The Buckhead Diner (the white chocolate banana cream pie is highly recommended!). If you are shopping at the right time of day in the Neiman Marcus shoe department, you will be served champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. No, we weren't buying - "just looking" at the Manolos. I was wearing my Birkenstocks - I'm surprised they let me in the shoe department there!

This morning after breakfast we made a trip to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It was such a perfect day to visit - not a cloud in the sky, mid-60's - just beautiful. If you are ever in Atlanta, make an effort to get there! I didn't take my camera but Andrew took some great pictures which I'll share with you later.

When I arrived in Atlanta on Friday, my first stop was at In Stitches, a needlepoint boutique in Buckhead. It's located in a cute little house on Shadowlawn Drive. I was excited to discover that they were having a Melissa Shirley trunk show. They had a nice selection of large and small canvases in the show (and in the shop, of course). No way I was walking out of there without an addition to the stash! Here's what I bought -

Melissa Shirley's Gold Pears - one striped design and one damask design. I started on the damask pear with an antique copper Kreinik braid. Each of the designs comes with some "velvet" leaves. Love them! I also picked up a couple of new Zecca magnets.

I couldn't resist picking up one of Melissa's Ribbon Candy canvases with a Halloween theme (imagine that!). The ribbon candy canvases are featured on the cover of the current Needlepoint Now. This is a particularly good issue. I love the projects that are featured this time. Note to self - remember to renew the subscription to Needlepoint Now!

Thanks to the ladies at In Stitches who were so attentive and helpful!

This past Thursday afternoon there was a thumping and scratching sound at the door after the UPS man dropped off a special package at the door. Look who has arrived!

I don't think I'll even put the Wolfman on the stretchers until I have made a little more progress on his buddy, Dr. Acula. The Dr. is already put out with me because I haven't been showing him much attention these last two weeks. I was disappointed to learn that the stitching diagram for his coffin was incorrect. Oh, well, that part has been done for quite a while and I don't think I'll be taking it out. No one will ever know - unless you tell them! You won't do that, will you?

Our W.Herr Wolfe is quite striking with all that fur to be stitched. I love the pumpkins and the moon in the background. Hope I can get back on a regular stitching schedule with him.

I look forward to sharing some photos from the Botanical Garden with you later this week. Hope you have a wonderful week!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dressing the Doctor

Dr. Acula has been most patient with me as I attempted to get him dressed this week.  Despite him being a "doctor", he has been no help to me as I coughed and sneezed my way through the week. The dust, dirt, and heat at our warehouse finally got to me this week and stirred up my allergies. Dr. A didn't know whether to prescribe the cold/flu medications, the allergy medications, or the high blood pressure cold medications. Don't tell my real doctor, but I think I took an assortment of all of the above at some point during the week in an attempt to rid myself of the watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, cough, etc.

Dr. Acula is dressed for the most part. He needs his bow tie, buttons, and the gold trim for his cape. Today I added the orange puffy lining to his coffin. Photos don't do this part of the design justice. There's so much more dimension to it than a photo can deliver. I've added the green outline stitches around the upper lid and can see that it will take 2 or 3 rows of brown outline to fill in the outer edges.

I'm disappointed that this canvas won't be finished by the time W. Herr Wolfe arrives at the end of the week. But, it's just been a crazy month with work and all that has come with it. My plan is to work on the candelabra next, then move down to the grass and our friend, Rhett. I'll tackle the bottom border and then finish up with the "X" background and the large spider web.

Did I tell you that Bridezilla and her Groom are honeymooning in San Francisco? They heard such wonderful things from Stirha and Frank about Marlene's that they wanted to go there, too. I don't think they will make it home in time for Halloween, but there's always next year. I sent my Merry Christmas canvas with them and I hope I will get that one back in time for Christmas.

I gave into temptation yesterday and called Ruth Schmuff at Bedecked and Bedazzled and ordered her 3D holiday tree series. The Halloween tree looks like this. Ruth offers this as a one sided tree or as a 3D tree. The tree series stitch guide will be featured in Needlepoint Now magazine so Ruth will be sending the canvas and the threads/ribbons/tchotchkes, etc.

And, as if that wasn't enough, I also signed up for one of Ruth's mystery classes. I want to stitch the Beth Gantz Noel canvas as seen here. I must have lost my mind (although maybe I was under the influence of too many cold medications!). I am counting on my work load slowing down by the end of October and having a little more energy at the end of the day for more stitching. But, never fear, the Halloweenies continue into the new year and they will remain at the top of my stitching priority list.

It's a rainy night in Georiga for the first time in weeks! It's supposed to continue into tomorrow and Tuesday. It couldn't be more welcome!

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Busy Week = Little Stitching

It's been a really busy week at work. I usually work from home but the last two weeks have found me working at our warehouse for most of the day. I don't know what the September temperatures have been like for you, but here in Georgia it's still in the mid-90's every day. Our warehouse is not air-conditioned and by the time I come home, the heat has worn me out and I don't want to do much more than just sit in front of the television. And, as a result, I haven't stitched a lot this week.

I stitched a little bit on Dr. Acula's cape this week and today I added the detail to his face. I had to break out the heavy duty clip-on light to stitch the black cape. Without it, I couldn't see the black stitches on the black canvas.

I just have to say that I can't imagine that there's anyone who can detail a face like Amy. Dr. Acula is the 5th Halloweenie character we have stitched and each of the faces has been so expressive. Everything from the shading of the skin to the eyes, mouth, nose, and hair really brings life to each character. And they are charted so well, it's hard to stitch it incorrectly. Thanks Amy!

September is moving by so quickly, don't you think? We'll be welcoming the next Halloweenie before we know it.

It's back to the warehouse in the morning for me. Will my stitching friends in Canada please send some cool autumn air our way? Have a good week everyone!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Frank and Stirha's Holiday Home

Frank and Stirha have taken up residence for the Halloween season on my living room mantle. While their larger Haunted House is being stitched, they are quite happy with the ceramic haunted house that I brought home from Bath and Body Works. I had seen this house when Anna, my daughter-in-law, and I had shopped at B and BW over Labor Day weekend. I resisted buying it then but have been thinking about it ever since. I caved, what can I say!

Inside the Haunted House I am burning the Slatkin & Co. Autumn 3 wick candle from B and BW. It really sets the mood for the season - a little apple, a little spice, and a tiny touch of wood smoke. I highly recommend it - it scents most of the house. There's plenty of room for more Halloweenie characters on the mantle. But, for now, Frank and Stirha each have a buddy. Check out these cuties!


The foliage across the back of the mantle is a glittered black pine bough with shiny purple and orange balls attached to it. I found them at a cute shop in Augusta called Cudos. The little resin figures came from there as well. I have a few more things to add but just have to find them.  Now that I have downsized my home, I find myself putting things away in odd places (wherever there's room) and then can't find them when the season rolls around again. I have some Jim Shore Halloween pieces that are hiding from me but there are only a few closets in this house so I know I'll find them!

Dr. Acula is feeling a little neglected and I have promised to work on his cape tonight. Last night I was good for nothing but sitting in front of the television all evening. Some evenings are like that -

Have you decorated for fall or Halloween yet? Martha Stewart's latest issue of Living inspired me to get started. I can't help but believe Martha would be jealous of our Halloweenie characters!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nice Progress This Weekend

I think I made some nice progress on Dr. A this weekend. I finished the pumpkin and the kitty in the little coffin as well as the major wood sections of Dr. A's coffin. I had my doubts about the kitty as he looked like a big black blob until all the details were stitched. I love his coppery collar! I had not used ThreadworX floss before and Amy selected a fabulous green for us to use in the bed of both coffins and the pumpkin leaf. I particularly like the shading in this green color.

Another new fiber for me is the Kreinik Laser metallic thread. You will see more of it later as I work on other areas but for now you can see it in the edges of the pumpkin leaves. It has sort of a holographic effect. I don't know that you can see it in the photo but even just a little bit of it gives off an unexpected  sparkle.

This afternoon I stitched the main color in Dr. A's face. Without the details of his face, he's looking a little evil. He just needs his eyebrows, I think. I doubt he's as evil as he might want us to think. This week I'll concentrate on his face and clothes. That should make him look a little more friendly!

Hope you all had a good weekend and are ready for the week ahead!