Sunday, May 27, 2012

Progress and plants

Good morning everyone!  I had intended to have this post up Friday night, but just as I sat down to turn the computer on, the power went out.  For the second time in two weeks.  Ugh.  I hope this isn't going to be a common thing this summer.

Anyhow, the power is back on and I can now share all the silly things I wanted to share two days ago (um, the power has been on since late, late Friday night.  I have just been busy since then).  I had mentioned in my last post that I was going to give Sous le Soleil another week's worth of work because I felt like I'd made almost no progress during the first week.  Then, early Monday morning, I damaged my foot by kicking a stepladder.  Not on purpose, I didn't realize it was in the hallway and I ran into it on the way to the bonus room.  So I spent most of this week lamed up, which is a bad thing for housekeeping and physical comfort, but a great thing for stitching.  So here's Soleil when I last posted:
 And here she is after one slow week and one turbo week:
 Most of the plant motifs you see are unfinished.  I decided to push through with the green and save specialty stitches til closer to the end of the piece.  Then I changed my mind about waiting:
 I am tempted to keep at her for another week and see how close I can come to finishing, but I am also thinking about finishing a pyn pillow from Thistle Threads in the coming week.   My lessons for "A Cabinet of Curiosities" began earlier this month, and I'm somewhat motivated to work on something intimidating as a warm up for this class.  Plus, the pillow is also on my WIPocalypse list.  Hmm, guess we'll see what kind of mood I'm in tomorrow morning when it's time to officially decide how the stitching week will go!

My vegetable garden seems to be doing well.  The zucchini plant has leaves the size of my hand (or larger) and is now sprouting this giant yellow flowers.  And yesterday I saw a few little flowers on my tomato plant. Hopefully, the flowers are a sign that vegetables are soon to follow.  Nothing to do but wait and see!
 I can't remember whether I mentioned on this blog that one of the ferns that I bought to use in our wedding ceremony was taken over by purple finches when I left the plant at my sister's house for safe-keeping.  Well, her fern is now the home of 5 baby finches.  I bought a new fern, which remained bird free, and brought it back to my new home after the wedding.  We hung them on our front porch, and for a month they were just pretty ferns decorating our house.  But earlier this past week, I noticed that there were many purple finches circling around it, and that there seemed to be a battle for control of one of my ferns.  And then we noticed that there were often two purple finches perched in our fern.  Yesterday we took the fern down to water it (and to be sure we didn't water anything that shouldn't be watered) and sure enough, there's a little nest growing in our fern!
One of the eggs is quite a bit larger than the others, and it's speckled.  The others are not speckled.  What could be the reason for this?  Has some other bird snuck an egg into our poor finches' nest, or is it normal for the eggs to different sizes?  Only time will tell, I suppose.

Til next time, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend (or just a great weekend if you're not in the US).

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Ort Report, BAP Challenge update, and other stitching thoughts

It's time for my monthly TUSAL update.  If you want to learn more about the TUSAL, check out Daffycat's blog here .  As I have moved since my last TUSAL update, I have to find a new location for my ort jar photos.  So I decided to give the birds a chance to admire all my lovely orts:
In retrospect, this may not have been the wisest decision.  Don't some birds find that bits of thread make excellent additions to their nests?  Stay away from my orts little chickadee!  Seriously, I am having such a great time watching the birds that gather around our little bird feeder.  It's right outside the kitchen window, along with a humming bird feeder, so I can watch them any time that I'm doing something in the kitchen.

I spent a week working on my BAP challenge sampler.  It's not an impressive amount of progress.  I went from here:
to here:
I've only been devoting about a week a month to this piece.  I may have to bump the stitching time up later in the year, but for now, I think I'll stick to that schedule.

On Wednesday, I drove over to Mom's house for an intense 'framing' session.  For many years, I have not had the majority of my finished pieces framed.  This happened for several reasons: I didn't have space to hang the pieces, I didn't have the money for framing, and my mom doesn't really love the whole framing process all that much (I mentioned in my last post that my parents are photographers, which also means that they are able to provide me with a large selection of framing options for a far cheaper price than your average consumer can find).  But now that I've got this nice big house to fill up with stitching, I feel like it's time to put some of these beauties on the walls.  We started by dragging out every single stitched piece of mine that we could find.  This in and of itself was a bit overwhelming as Mom had finished pieces, both mine and hers, stashed in several places in the upstairs of her house.  Much of our work is hidden under piles of class kits and stitching models, etc, etc.  It took a while to find everything.

Once we had a nice big stack of needlework, we carefully measured the size of each piece and wrote it down on a master list.  I forgot to bring my camera with me, which is a shame, because you might have gotten a kick out of seeing that big pile of stitchery, just waiting to be framed.  We also found two Christmas ornaments, one large pillow, and a needleroll, all waiting to put into their finished form.  The ornaments and needleroll have come home with me, to be worked on here at my house.  After we finished with the measurements, I selected a half dozen or so pieces to be the first to receive their frames.  We spent another hour or two picking out the frames for them.  Dad has ordered one of the frames, and will hopefully order the rest when they return from Connecticut later this week.  Next week, I will return to Mom's house for a training session in pinning.  No, not Pinterest, pinning the linen to mounting boards so that each piece will be smoothly stretched across it before going into the frames.  Sigh.  I'm not really excited about learning how to pin.  But I will learn, and I will do it, because the end result will be worth it.  Sigh.  So hopefully I will have photos of one or two beautifully framed pieces sometime next week, followed by many more in the weeks to come.

Having been inspired by this week's trip down memory lane, I've pulled out some of my patriotic finishes and put them up around the house.  I figure they can stay out from now through September 11th and be perfectly appropriate, right?  Anyway, I only took a photo of one of the pieces before I sat down to blog, so that's the last photo that I'll share with you today.  I have a fondness for stitching sheep.  Don't know why.  I just do.  So here's an oldie but a goodie:
I spent my stitching time this past week working on Sous le Soleil.  But I don't feel like I stitched very much. There were just so many other things going on.  So I'm going to keep working on Soleil this week.  Til next time, I hope everyone has a beautiful, crafty day!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ask and you shall receive...

A few of you have asked if I'm going to share wedding photos on the blog.  Yes, of course!  I've just been rather slow about it.  The sheer number of images to sort through is overwhelming.  One person also asked if I was able to keep the proofs from my wedding.  So here's my little secret... my parents are professional photographers.  My godparents are professional photographers.  The wedding photographer is a family friend. So of course I'm keeping the proofs!  And the memory cards.  Well, my parents have the memory cards.

Rather than overwhelm this post with a dozen or more photos, I thought I'd start by setting the scene.  The wedding bling:
 The wedding flowers (I love roses!):
 The ceremony location (note the potted flowers in buckets, in an earlier post, you saw them transferred to hanging baskets where they now live on our front porch):
 The centerpieces, as made by myself, my sister, and sister-inlaw:
The bubbles, with tiny tags created and attached by myself and my sister:
The groom (doesn't he look adorable?):
Okay.  That's half a dozen photos.  Enough for today.  Mostly because I got tired of sorting through the pictures!  I'll share more soon though.  Til then, hope everyone is having a lovely day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I finally scrapbooked!!!

After almost 6 months away from scrapbooking (well, except for the shopping part, I never really behind on the shopping part), I have finally gotten back it and gotten a few layouts done.  I used National Scrapbook Day to push me to 1- get the bonus room into some semblance of organization, and 2- get my scrap on!

On the organization front, a great deal of progress has been made, but there's a lot left to go.  I had more scrap and stitching product than I had storage space in the old apartment.  Now I have the room, but I am still in the process of acquiring the storage units that I need.  Hopefully, I'll have the room arranged completely to my liking by the end of the summer.

On the scrapping front, I have SEVEN layouts to share!!!  Yuppers, I am definitely back in the groove.  I am still working for the perfect place to take photos of my layouts.  There's plenty of light in my new room, but the layouts seem to come out way too dark.  I've tried to lighten them up to better capture their true appearance.

First up, and my favorite from the batch, is a layout about a trip Alton and I took to Death Valley back in 2009.
 I guess I like the color combination.  It was a great trip, which began with a girls' only visit to Las Vegas and ended with several days exploring the area with my honey.  Loved it!

This next layout is a quick, simple one showcasing a photo of my maternal grandparents and uncle working on the farm.  I'm not sure exactly when the photo was taken, but it's probably from the late 60's or early 70's.
 And finally, there are a few more layouts from my neverending Egyptian album.  When I last blogged about our vacation, we were spending our time in Aswan, and exploring Lake Nasser.  With these new layouts, we pick back up from the visit to Kitchener Island and head south in a small, motorized boat.  I think we sailed  about 25 miles from the border of Sudan, and maneuvered amidst the rocks and rapids of the first cataract on the river Nile.  The birdlife here was beautiful.
 At one point, we could see caravans of camels.  Some of them resting on the edge of the desert on the shore of the Nile, and others loaded up and walking along narrow desert trails.  It was surely something to see.  

 Our boat pulled up to the shore, and we had a few short minutes to walk on the yellow sands of the desert. A few of us dared to take our shoes off and wade into the Nile.  It was refreshingly cool, and amazingly clear and clean looking, especially considering the amount of trash we had seen floating on parts of the river earlier in our trip.
From there, we cruised on, and eventually docked at a small Nubian village.  We were greeted by several young girls trying to sell us wooden dolls.  I bought one because I thought they looked so cute.  We were taken to a local family's home where we had some tea, and then they brought out the Nile Crocodiles.  Apparently many Nubian villagers rescue the baby crocs from the river, keep them in their homes until they are larger  and better able to protect themselves in the wild.  It was really something to have the chance to hold one in my arms.  Yes, its little mouth was tied shut for my protection, but it was still awe inspiring.
It was getting later in the afternoon, and as we left the village, the camels were coming home for the night.  Have you ever seen a string of camels come swaying by on their way home for dinner?  They are very focused on their route, and don't pay too much attention to anything in their way.  Including tourists.  It made for some interesting moments.
So that's it for my new layouts.  Next post will either be some more honeymoon photos, or some stitching photos.  I'm not sure which yet.  I did finally pick up my wedding proofs this weekend.  There are only about 800 of them.  I don't know how I'm ever going to choose which ones to scrap, which to get bigger images of, etc etc.  Maybe my next post will be wedding photos.  Who knows.  Tee hee.  Til next time, happy crafting everyone!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The cats are adjusting well!

I know I SHOULD be sharing more honeymoon photos, or wedding photos, and I will.  But today I wanted to share some photos of some of the cats instead.  Everyone seems to be adjusting pretty well to their new home.

Princess likes all the windows that I open every day.  She watches the birds, plots her escape to the outdoors, and enjoys a sunbeam or two:
Spike has discovered that the living room chairs are very comfy, especially when they are covered with a beautiful, handmade afghan knitted by my cousin Kristy.
Scout, on the other hand, prefers Alton's office chair.
And then there's Lucky.  He likes the kitchen window.  I think he is the perfect decoration for it, don't you?
I have decided to try my hand at vegetable gardening.  There's a raised bed in our backyard.  Last week I dug out all the weeds, added some fresh compost, and put in some new plants.  There are zucchini, tomatoes,two kinds of lavender, and cantaloupe.  I have no clue what I'm doing, but so far none of them have died!
Finally, I leave you with a photo of the live plants that I used in the wedding.  These lovelies are all now happily growing in baskets along the porch rail.  And the ferns from the ceremony are hanging on the front porch as well.
Next post, I think I'll be sharing what I did for National Scrapbook Day.  Til next time, happy crafting!

Friday, May 4, 2012

WIPocalypse and BAP challenge updates

Most of this stitching (actually, all of it) took place before I got married. I was just too busy to take the time to post updates on my blog. Things are calming down now. I'm finding time to stitch again, and I'm really looking forward to scrapbooking all day long on National Scrapbook Day.

First up, my WIPocalypse progress. I have been working on Reflets de Soie's "Sous le Soleil de la Lune." In my last update, I was slogging through an endless field of green grass.  I am happy to say that I have finished the grass and moved on to more interesting things.  Here's where I was at my last update:
And here's where I am now:
Not only is the grass done, but all the dark green in the border as well.  And I've added a vase and a pair of pretty blue birds:
You can read more about the WIPocalypse challenge on Measi's blog, here.

I also had a little time to work on my sampler for BeckyBee's BAP challenge.  You can find her blog here.
I've been working on the Gyrafa sampler from SANQ magazine.  Here's where I am now:
This last section has been attacked by frogs, and the frogs have destroyed my desire to work on the project.  This is just a temporary setback.  I'll be back to my dear giraffe in a couple of weeks, I'm sure.  Meanwhile, Saturday is going to be all about the scrapbooking.  Well, the crafty side of the day is going to be about scrapbooking.   My husband and I are planning a walk to the local farmers' market (there'd better be fresh strawberries!) followed by the debut of our fancy schmancy waffle maker.  THEN it's gonna be all about the scrapbooking.  Happy National Scrapbooking Day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'm baaaack!!!

Hello everyone! I am officially returning to the land of blogging. I am happy to report that the wedding on April 14 was absolutely beautiful (at least from my point of view). The weather was gorgeous, the site was gorgeous, my husband was gorgeous... you get the picture. And speaking of pictures, I will be posting some, but there are something around 800 wedding photos to go through, so it might be a while. In the meantime, I do have a few photos from our honeymoon that I am ready to share. We left for Oahu two weeks ago today (much cheaper to fly on a Tuesday, and we really needed that resting time between the wedding and our trip to rest and pack). What a beautiful part of the world! We were greeted at the plane with beautiful, fragrant leis:
I went into the bathroom immediately after receiving my lei, and heard a voice from a nearby stall, "I smell a bride! Is there a bride in the bathroom?" Although I knew that meant she could smell the fragrance of plumeria wafting from my direction, in retrospect, that is a really awkward question to be asking in a public bathroom! Our hotel was in Waikiki, across the street from the actual beach. After having dinner at the local Hard Rock Cafe (what can I say? I'm in love with their Haystack Chicken Salad!), we wandered along the beach:
Gorgeous, right? We walked around for a bit, then settled in and watched the sun set. It was so relaxing. And yes, very romantic. The next morning, we headed to Pearl Harbor. We were up bright and early to make sure that we got tickets. Turns out, we didn't need to be up quite so early, because it wasn't all that crowded. Pearl Harbor is really a beautiful place. In some ways, that makes the horror of what happened on that December day all the more stark in my mind. It must have been so tranquil until the drones of the Japanese attack planes filled the air. We watched a short film about the attack, walked through several exhibits about what was going during that time period and what led to the Japanese decision to bomb Pearl Harbor, and rode the boat out to the Arizona Memorial. We chose not to pay to see any of the other museums.
From Pearl Harbor, we drove into downtown Honolulu. We visited 'Iolani Palace, where I got a fabulous, up-close view of the Queen's Quilt. No photos allowed, but I did buy a small book lots of detailed information about the crazy quilt. We also wandered around Chinatown, buying our lunch from a stall in one of the open markets. A little grotty, but quite tasty! One of the places that we walked by was the State Supreme Court. Does anyone else start humming the theme to Hawaii 5-O when they see this?
We finished our first day with a short scenic drive up Tantalus Drive. It was an amazing, tropical drive up the mountainside, topped with a beautiful view of the valley and Diamond Head Crater. A good first full day of our honeymoon. Well, that's about it for today. I realize that I've missed both the WIPocalypse and the TUSAL updates for April. Since very little stitching was done, I think I'll just save what little updating I have for May's regular days for updating. I started a new project yesterday (new project for a new marriage, that's my rationalization). I'm going to be working on La-D-Da's "Spot the Cat" for the next little while. I don't have a job right now, so I'm focusing on trying to put our house in order. There are boxes everywhere. The kitchen is almost completely arranged, but that's the only room that's close to done (unless you count the downstairs half bath, which I don't). And my poor craft room is jammed full of boxes. I need to get it at least half sorted out so that I can do some scrapbooking this weekend in honor of National Scrapbooking Day! We'll see if that happens. Til next time, happy creating, everyone!