Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Inspiration Arrives in All Forms

So much for getting purchase orders written at work this morning! I just received a Tweet from Amy's Golden Strand (and an email) alerting me to the July newsletter that has just been posted. Robin, Amy, Jill, Peggy, and all the ladies at Amy's do such a fantastic job with the newsletter each month. It fills me with such inspiration to take on more needlepoint projects. I like Amy's thought about having Stirha whip up a potion that either slows time down or speeds up our stitching abilities. There just isn't enough time to stitch all the things I want to make. Peggy had shown us Melissa Shirley's Pink Peony Purse while they were at market and she shows it to us again in the newsletter. I think it is absolutely one of the most beautiful pieces of needlepoint I have ever seen - not to mention the incredible finishing. I would love to stitch it but would I ever be brave enough to actually use it? I guess I could display it somewhere in the living room and just look at it everyday!

More inspiration arrived via email from Michele Herron at The Bristly Thistle at Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, FL. Michele has a Tapestry Tent Trunk Show in the shop right now (through mid-July) and the canvases are 20% off. She has a beautifully stitched pillow sample in the shop of Liz Dillon's Halloween March and her email announces her stitch guide for it. I admire it every time I stop by her cute shop in Fernandina. If you haven't been to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, please go there. Not only is the beach fantastic but the old town of Fernandina is so charming. I think Bristly Thistle has recently relocated in Fernandina and I look forward to seeing the new location the next time I go to Jacksonville. It's a convenient little side trip for me when I go to visit Anna and Andrew in Jacksonville. If I weren't up to my eyeballs in Halloween themed canvases right now, I would be on the phone ordering Halloween March. But, she has tempted me with the Christmas March and the Easter March canvases.

Bridezilla Update - the double wedding rings in the background are almost finished and the bride is beginning to calm down. I can probably begin her veil tonight or tomorrow. I think she'll be ready for her groom by the weekend. Should I let them see each other or make them wait until the wedding?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Printed Books vs. Electronic Books - Which Do You Prefer?

I was reading a fellow stitcher's blog the other night and saw that she had posted a photo of her stack of books for her summer reading. It started me thinking about my own summer reading or what for me is year-round reading. I had this fleeting moment of wistfulness (is that even a word?) when looking at her photo because I can't take a photo of a wonderful stack of books just waiting to be read. I can take a photo of my Kindle but it isn't really the same, is it?

 I have totally given myself over to the Kindle and absolutely love it. Here comes the BUT - but I really miss looking at the cover of the book, turning the pages, the weight of the book in my hands, even the photo of the author. You just can't beat the Kindle for convenience. I'm actively reading 5 books right now and I certainly don't want to carry 5 books around with me plus a dictionary. The dictionary is built into the Kindle. That's pretty handy!

I have never been one to wait for the paperback to come out or put my name on the list for a bestseller at the library. I like owning hardback books and the excitement and anticipation of opening a particular book for the first time. One of the main aspects of two of my previous jobs was ordering books - one for a church/school bookstore and one for an art museum bookstore. It seems odd to me now to have embraced the Kindle as I have. When I go to a bookstore now, I write down titles to look for on my Kindle. Apologies to Barnes & Noble and Borders.

And now I am flirting with the idea of buying an iPad. Do you know what appealed to me immediately upon seeing the iPad? The iBook screen looks like a bookshelf with the book covers facing out. As you purchase new books, they just slide right on to your bookshelf. None of the black and white or shades of gray that you get with the Kindle. The iPad is full color. Amazon has developed a Kindle app for the iPad. Smart move on their part, I think.

I suppose if I am thinking about moving to an iPad then I have definitely come down on the side of electronic books. Will an electronic book ever replicate the sensory experience of a printed book? Probably not but I think I can live with it -

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Anxious Bride

Bridezilla has heard that her groom should be arriving at the end of the week and she's really getting anxious as to whether she will be ready by the time he arrives. I've tried to calm her fears and remind her that he will need some fixing up just as she did. She's very upset that she's missing her leg and arm bones but I have assured her that the groom won't see her until both are in place. I did my best to talk her out of the black double wedding rings for her background but she wouldn't hear of it. Those rings are so tedious but she's insistent! So my focus for the rest of the week is to finish those rings.

This weekend I finished the bridesmaids border and Mr. Rhett J. Reviens. The crow has also settled into her nest on top of the pumpkin. I love the pumpkin and the various stitches that make it up. Here's the latest bridal photo:

I thought I would share with you one of my favorite pieces of needlepoint. It's by Melissa Shirley (of course!) and just one in a wonderful series of little Asian girl themed canvases. I stitched this several years ago before I knew much about how to use various stitches for effect. Part of me wishes I could stitch it again - one of those things where I wish I knew then what I know now. But I love it anyway and particularly like the fringe that was used. It picks up all of the colors used to stitch the girls robes. I have a couple of other canvases in this same Asian theme in my stash that I look forward to working on one day - when the Halloweenies are finished!


I made the mistake of checking out eBay last night and saw a Melissa Shirley canvas that I may have to bid on. It's one of her Linda Carter Holman canvases. I absolutely love Linda's work. Stay tuned, the auction ends in a couple of days. I've gotten some incredible deals on canvases from eBay (my apologies to shop owners) so I hope this canvas will be one of them.

Stitch on -

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Evening with Paula Deen

Last Thursday evening, my sweetheart of a son treated his new wife of 2 weeks and me to an incredible evening of food and fun with Paula Deen. Paula's appearance was sponsored by Publix and Smithfield. Earlier in the day, Paula and her husband, Michael, donated on behalf of Smithfield 35,000 pounds of protein to the Jacksonville Food Bank. Smithfield is doing the same for 32 other cities around the country this year.

Anna and I arrived downtown at the new Jacksonville Public Library just in time to avoid a torrential late afternoon thunderstorm. The library is beautiful - more like an upscale bookstore than the libraries of my school years. I was very impressed. I know it is a great asset to the city. After about a 30 minute wait in line, we were given our numbers for the book signing and allowed to browse through Paula's books and purchase one we wanted to have signed.  Anna and I both chose Paula Deen's Savannah Style. It's a beautiful, coffee table style book showing amazing home interiors in and around the Savannah area. There are quite a few photos of some of the rooms in Paula's house. No recipes in this one just in case you wanted to know.  I think I have all of her cookbooks anyway. Once we purchased our books, we were treated to dinner courtesy of Publix. Publix's Apron chefs had prepared about 14 or 15 of Paula's recipes for us to sample. We had everything from Paula's South Georgia Caviar, Pickled Okra Sandwiches (my favorite), Vidalia Onion Pie to Red Velvet Bread Pudding and a lot in between! And we were given all the recipes as well - packed in to our re-usable Publix gift bag.  During dinner, the book signing numbers were called by group. We were halfway through the dinner line when our number was called - and we were hungry too!

Paula is as beautiful in person as the woman we see on tv. Her blue eyes are something else! She was dressed just like one of us - linen pants and top with a yellow shell with sequins - and flip flops! Michael was signing books along side her. He was casually dressed as well - shorts and sneakers. There was no time to speak with her other than to say hello and keep moving down the table. Her assistant kept the line moving. I think he must have had a previous career as a bouncer at a nightclub. He had that look about him - and the physique to match.

After the signing, we made our way back to the table, finished our dinner and dessert and had a nice conversation with Patrick Whalley, head chef at the Publix Aprons Cooking School in Jacksonville. I think Anna and I decided on the spot to make sure we take a class or classes from Patrick. 

After dinner, we proceeded to the beautiful new auditorium for a cooking demonstration by Tom Gray, chef/owner of Bistro Aix. He prepared what looked to be a delicious dish of gazpacho soup, polenta, and shrimp. Even though we had great seats on the second row, we weren't lucky enough to get some of the samples that were passed around the audience.

Tom was the opening act for Paula. She performed what amounted to a one hour stand-up comedy routine. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time - my cheeks were hurting. Michael and Patrick Whalley from Publix actually did the cooking - jambalaya and a chocolate gooey cake. Paula said we could see her on the Food Network three times a day if we wanted to see her cook. Her humor is very self-deprecating. Michael was right in there with her, telling stories about Paula and himself. It's hard to imagine that Paula ever suffered with agoraphobia. She was completely comfortable on stage and had no problem whipping out the breast enhancer from her bra. It would take way too long to tell you why that was part of her talk. She did step behind the curtain and put it back in, however. 

Unfortunately the evening had to come to an end. Paula went 30 minutes over her alloted time so I can't complain too much. Anna and I had so much fun and came away from the evening with new recipes and plans for some fun cooking classes. I was genuinely impressed with Paula. It is just amazing to see how she has changed her life in so many ways and still remained that girl from a small town in south Georgia. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of her events, don't hesitate! We had so much fun - thanks Andrew!

Bridezilla's Bouquet

I finished Bridezilla's bouquet today. I still need to add her fingers into the bow. The technique for making the bow is so clever - thanks, Amy! The bow is crafted from Sparkle Rays by Rainbow Gallery. You would never know it is a flat ribbon-like thread. I found the cup flowers a little difficult to stitch. Whether they were correctly stitched, I don't know, but they have dimension and a flowery form and I like the way they turned out.

Moving on to the bridesmaids in the lower border. No chance that they will outshine the bride!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Morning in the Garden

I made a quick trip to Lowe's this morning for some potting soil and naturally came home with more than that. I bought a few small pots of a golden yellow Purslane. I love the small waxy leaves and the bright flowers. It holds up so well in the summer heat here in Georgia. Purslane does well even with little rain as is the case here unfortunately. I'll take some pictures once the pot fills out a little.

The best thing I came home with was this Double Pink Delight Coneflower. I've never seen this variety before, have you?  I love the way the small flowers spiral out from the center of the cone. So beautifully complex.

 I have another coneflower in the garden although it isn't looking it's best. Even with the sprinkler system, it's hard to get enough water on my plants right now with our severe lack of rain. It has thundered all around me for the last three days but there's been no rain at my house. This fall I may move my more traditional  coneflower to a sunnier place in the bed. The trees above it are starting to provide a little too much shade. That and lack of rain might be why there are so few blooms.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Welcome to My Blog!

Hi - thanks for joining me! Hope you will enjoy following my needlepoint projects, keeping up with what I'm reading, and all of the other things that go to making a "good life". I always have several needlepoint projects going at once and am always reading several books at once. Eventually they all get finished.

My current needlepoint project is Amy Bunger's Halloweenies Home Study. You can follow the group's progress at Needlepoint Study Hall. At the moment, I am stitching Zombie Bride Zilla - the third character in the series. She would be an interesting addition to "Say Yes to the Dress" although I don't know if the ladies at Kleinfeld's could do much to help her. What do you think?

My first two characters were Stirha Cal-Dron and Frank N. Stein. The designs in this series are by Kelly Clark and the stitch guides are by Amy Bunger at Amy's Golden Strand. I haven't quite decided how to finish them. A stand-up, perhaps? I think for a series of characters that would probably work the best. There are 8 characters all together. Below are my two finished pieces. I'm pleased with the way my characters have turned out so far. I love the faces on Stirha and Frank - they are very expressive. Amy did a great job with the fine details.

There is another component to the Halloweenies and it's a major one - the Haunted House. Again, the design is by Kelly Clark and the stitch guide by Amy Bunger. I'll post some photos of it another time. It is a large canvas and we receive updated stitch guides and threads every couple of months. The Halloweenies project started in February and runs throughout the year. The characters are not too difficult to finish within the month that they arrive. I probably shouldn't say that because I still have a good bit of work to do on Bride Zilla to finish her before her groom arrives at the beginning of July. I'm getting ready to start working on her bouquet now that her headband and belt are finished. Her bouquet is made up of cup stitches which I'm not familiar with. I have learned so much by stitching this series and I highly recommend it as a great way to learn new techniques and stitches, not to mention all the new threads we get to work with.

The kitchen is calling my name right now. I have been brining some chicken breasts this afternoon in preparation for grilling them in a little while. I'm cooking some grilled lemon chicken this evening from a recipe in Cook's Illustrated this month - love that magazine. Earlier this afternoon I made a potato and green bean herb salad from one of last year's issues. 

Thanks for stopping by!