Monday, October 29, 2012

October WIPocalypse update, and a little BAP too

Good morning!  I hope everyone is staying safe and dry on this blustery morning.  I'm certainly thinking about those of you living to the north of me here on the east coast.  Sandy has brought us some high winds, and the rain started overnight, but nothing like what seems to be in store for others.

It's time once again for a WIPocalypse update.  If you want to learn more about the WIPocalypse fun, check out Measi's blog.  I certainly got some stitching done since the last update, but not a lot of it was truly WIPocalypse related.  However, I'm going to share everything that I have been stitching on recently.  First up is my Girafa sampler, which has been slowly coming along.  I have my doubts about whether I'll finish it this year or not... I think the siren call of Christmas themed stitching my pull me away from this one.  Here's where I was last update:
 And here we are today:
Lots of progress, but a lot left to go as well!

I took some simple stitching with me on our trip to D.C. earlier in the month.  This piece is from this year's JCS Christmas ornament issue, and I used the called for threads.  I can't remember who this is by off the top of my head, but I'll be sure to include that info whenever I 'finish' the ornament.
Wow, that's a really crooked looking photo!

I've been stitching like a madwoman on the newest Blackbird Designs pattern.  But I'll be taking a break for the rest of this week because I need to acquire the rest of the threads I need to stitch it.  But I got pretty far with what was already in my stash:

And finally, the only real WIPocalypse piece.  I started stitching With Thy Needle and Thread's "Boughs of Holly" last holiday season.  Since I didn't finish it before Christmas, I put it aside.  I really didn't have that much left to go.  Here's where I was when I set it aside:

 And with just one day's worth of stitching, I am done!!!
I have already picked out the fabric I want to back the pillow with, so as soon as I'm in a finishing kind of mood, I'll whip this baby right out... well, unless I decide to finish one of the half dozen or so ornaments that need finishing first!

Ugh, I had thought that I might hobble out today for a much needed shopping trip.  I completely failed to consider Sandy and her rain.  Hmmm, not sure whether this will deter me or not.  For the rest of you, stay safe, stay dry, and maybe work in some nice crafty time while you are stuck indoors!

PS.  Don't forget about my giveaway from two posts ago.  The chance to enter ends on Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Visiting D.C.

First, I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and concern.  I'm doing better now.  Not well, but better.  At least I can sit up on the couch now without being in complete agony.  And I have seen the doctor.  He is a little concerned about my habit of pitching myself down the stairs, and confused by my protestations that my broken toe is normally rather sideways, but he is also confident that I will heal up as good as new.  I am back in the stinky black boot, and much less grumpy now that I can stitch for more than ten minutes at a time.

Now, on to the much talked about trip to Washington, D.C., from week before last.  On the Saturday following our visit to the State Fair, hubby and I hit the road.  First to Greensboro so that I could hang out with my fellow Sampler Guild members, then on to D.C.  We took 29 north through Danville.  Much of the drive was through beautiful countryside.  The skies were blue, the leaves were barely beginning to turn, and the traffic was light.  It was really a very pleasant, relaxing drive.  At least until we hit the city traffic.  : )

Saturday night, we stayed at the historic Willard Hotel in the downtown area.  What a beautiful hotel!  It is on the national register of historic hotels, and really, it has seen a great deal of history.  Martin Luther King, Jr. finished his 'I have a dream' speech at the hotel, and it is believed that the term 'lobbyist' was coined in reference to persons lurking in the Willard's lobby in an attempt to connect with the rich and powerful who were staying at the hotel.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time there.

Exterior of the hotel:

Here's a view looking into that famous lobby.  The ceiling is decorated with the State Seals of 48 states.  The last two, Alaska and Hawaii, are the two round images you can see just above the archway in this photo.
 And the view from our room.  Granted, it's nothing special.  But trust me, the room was pretty.  And I was in love with the silky soft sheets on our bed!  And no USA Today at this hotel.  Sunday morning we had a complimentary issue of the Washington Post delivered to our room.
Saturday evening, we wandered around the downtown area a bit, just soaking in the atmosphere.  There was a street fair and live music a block from the hotel.  Another block up and you could see the capital in the distance.

 If you walked a block in the other direction, you came across this little white house set back on some lovely grounds.  Seriously, I had never walked around this side of the White House before.  I'd only ever seen the other side on previous trips.  The road on this side is closed to all but pedestrian traffic.
Sunday turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day.  We walked to the National Building Museum and toured it (no photos, sorry).  After checking out of our hotel, we wandered around Capital Hill and the National Mall for several hours.  Really, the weather was so beautiful.  We'd stroll a bit, then sit on a bench and watch the world go by.    

I think this patrol vehicle defeats the concept of 'secret':

For some reason, I was fascinated by the diving ducks and their little duck butts.  I love the curly little feather sticking up from this guy's rear.

This was just wrong.  In so many ways.  (note the vanity tag.  Also wrong).
Later in the evening, we traded our swanky downtown digs for the Holiday Inn in Rosslyn, which was near the convention Alton was attending for the first half of the week.  The view wasn't too bad:

On Monday, while Alton was working, I headed back into the city on the Metro.  I toured the Supreme Court, took a quick peek into the Library of Congress, and toured the National Postal Museum before making my way back to Rosslyn via Union Station.  The weather wasn't so nice that day... grey and slightly rainy.  And for some reason I didn't take any photos!

When Alton had finished work for the day, we walked from our hotel across the Key bridge into Georgetown.  Dinner was some delicious pizza.  Afterwards, I insisted that we get cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes.  The shop and its owners are the stars of the TLC show "DC Cupcakes."  I don't know if it was the weather or the fact that it was a Monday, but there was no line.  Seriously.  There was one person in front of us.  I barely even had time to admire this blingtastic mixer:

I soooo want one of those!!!  The cupcakes were delicious.  I ordered two (one for the next day), and Alton picked one out for himself.  My favorite by far was the cinnamon cupcake (the one with the little heart on top).
 Tuesday, I again headed out on my own.  This time, I met up with my friend Jennifer for a quick bite of lunch.  I then spent a few hours in the National History Museum before joining my friend Steph for a tour of her new school, followed by a little taste of home at Bruegger's Bagels.  We explored a few of the rooms in the beautiful National Portrait Gallery before Steph had to head off for dance class.  Alton then met up with me on the mall and we walked (a very looong walk) to check out the MLK memorial, which neither of us had seen before.  It is a lovely memorial, and I think it was especially striking in the darkening evening:

There was a nice view of the Jefferson Memorial from the edges of the MLK Memorial.  I know my photo is slightly craptastic, but you get the idea:

On Wednesday, it was time to head home.  But not without a quick side stop at In Stitches needlework shop in Alexandria.  
 What a great shop!  And the people who were work there are really nice.  I was going to snap a quick photo of all the little goodies I picked up there, but, ahem, I dug into the stash and started stitching some of it before I got around to taking a photo.  Trust me, they had great stuff.  I even got the newest Blackbird Designs pattern straight from the shipping box!  (that's the one that I'm working on right now.  It's THanksgiving themed, and I decided to try and finish it for this year).

Well, that's all for today.  I'm keeping an eye on this monster storm brewing out in the Atlantic.  Are you?  It makes me a little nervous.  I'm definitely hoping that the weather casters are being overly dramatic about this one.  Meanwhile, I think I'll stock up on lots of stitching and scrapbooking supplies.  Wouldn't want to be caught without enough fabric and thread, right?  ; )  I hope everyone stays safe, dry, and has lots of crafty time over the weekend!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Giveaway and Deja Vu all over again

Yesterday, I was going to post about my fun getaway to Washington, D.C..  But Thursday afternoon, I suffered from the worst kind of deja vu.  I fell down the stairs.  Again.  And broke a toe.  Again.  You might wonder how it is possible for one person to be so very, very clumsy.  And I really have no answer.  Except to say that clumsy people should not try to take the stairs at a run, no matter how spunky they are feeling.  Especially if they are wearing socks.  So I have a broken toe, my tailbone seems to be badly bruised (and is actually far more uncomfortable than the stupid toe), and yesterday evening, my ribcage started to ache a little too.  And I'm trying really hard not to look at/think about the two broken toe nails.  They aren't hurting right now, so they can just stay as they are with no meddling.  Sigh.  This is really getting tiresome.  It's left me feeling nauseous, cranky, and it hurts to sit at anything close to an upright position.

Moving on to the fun part of the post... I need to have a giveaway to celebrate gaining 100 followers!!!  I have thought a bit about it, and what I am going to stitch something for the winner, whoever they might be.  I might throw something else in as well, but a stitched small is the offered prize.  So, if you are interested, here are the rules:

1- you must be a follower (of course, this is a giveaway celebrating followers!);
2- comment on this post and tell me your favorite month of the year (this is related to what I'm thinking of stitching);
3- the contest will be closed on October 31, and I will announce the winner soon after.

Simple enough, right?  I hope everyone is having a better weekend than I am, and I will try to update with D.C. stories and photos soonish.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Bumper Crop of Fun!

As promised, here's my second post for today.  And it is all about the North Carolina State Fair, which is in full swing this week.  Alton and I headed over to the fairgrounds on Friday.  My sweet man worked long hours all week long so that he could leave work early so we would have plenty of time to soak up the fair atmosphere.

It was a gorgeous day; I really don't think it could have been any nicer.  The midway was full, but not too crowded:

I've always loved going to the fair.  I like looking at the flower arrangements, listening to the music, looking at all the cute little animals:

The amount of produce on display is always amazing:

I always get a big kick out of the cake decorating section.  From the children's first efforts to the professional masterpieces, they all have a bit of charm.

And of course it wouldn't be a real trip to the fair without some food that's wickedly bad for you.  This year, I was on the hunt for fried Girl Scout Cookies.  Although I think I prefer my cookies unfried, they were worth the hunt:

 There were several artisans around the fairgrounds showing off their skills.  There was even a guy giving live demos on pumpkin carving.

And what would a State Fair be without giant pumpkins?

Alton and I decided to try something different, and watched an hour or so of the tractor pull.  If you've never experienced one, it is kind of interesting to watch the tractors go flying across the grounds and then grind to an abrupt halt as the heavy weight they are hauling becomes too much for the engine.  But you really need ear plugs if you're going to sit around for more than one pull.

See that swing ride to the left?  I persuaded Alton to ride it with me.  I think that's the first time I've been on a fair ride in nearly 10 years!

And finally, among all the other exhibits, there were the two I was most interested in.  The first we found was the scrapbooking entries.  I had entered 3 layouts in 3 different categories.  I won an Honorable Mention in Pets with this one:
I actually think this layout of that naughty little toilet paper-loving cat was my favorite of the three I entered.

I also won an Honorable Mention in Travel/Vacation with this layout on the Vietnam Memorial in DC:
And then we found my best performance of the fair in the wedding section:
 Yep, that's a second place ribbon!  Not too bad for my first try at entering a State Fair, I think.
There were lots of pretty layouts, but it was impossible to photos without lots of glare on them, so I have no others to share.  But I do have a few entries in the needlework section to share.  The entries in needlework were divided by evenweave or linen, cross stitch over one or over two, and other types of counted stitching. Then they were further broken down by whether you were a first time entrant, a prior ribbon winner, or a prior non-ribbon winner.  This pretty piece won 3rd in first time cross stitch on linen over 2:
 I won 4th place in the same category.  Of course I wanted to do better, but hey, this means I won a ribbon of some sort for every single piece that I entered!
 This piece was in the 'other' counted stitching and won best of show.  I think it's absolutely gorgeous!
 And here's the first prize winner in the same category I entered.  There were lots and lots of pretty pieces.  I think this woman should be very, very proud of herself!
That's about it from our day at the fair.  I see that I've hit the 100 followers mark.  There will be a giveaway announcement in the next day or two.  I think I know what I'm going to do, but I'm going to think about it a little bit more before I make the announcement.  Til next time, I hope everyone is able to take advantage of some gorgeous fall weather!

TUSAL, the October version

Whew!  Things have been really busy here for the past week or so.  I have a lot of things to share.  So much, in fact, that I think I'm going to have split everything into 3 (or more) posts.  So for now, I'm just going to do a quickie, overdue post of my TUSAL jar.
I will try to post again later this afternoon, and then again in the morning.  But don't hold your breath, lol.  I see that I now have 99 followers.  One more and I will have a giveaway of some sort to celebrate!

And if you'd like to see what the TUSAL is all about, go here.

See ya soon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

This post is all about cats

It's been so dark and overcast here lately that I just can't get any good pictures of my stitching or my Halloween decorations.  So I thought I'd share a few photos of my silly cats today.  I took this first one a week or two ago, when the weather was much nicer.  We were having a wonderful time leaving the windows open, feeling the cool breezes and listening to the birds twitter.  I think Scout and Lucky were especially interested in the birds:

Princess, on the other hand, wasn't as interested in the open windows.  Just give her a warm sunbeam and she's quite content.

Spike is the closest I've got to a Halloween decoration.  I came into the foyer one day to find her lying on my Halloween tablecloth, like a pretty little statue.

And that's it for today.  The other two cats can't be bothered to pose for photos.  The North Carolina State Fair begins Thursday.  Hubby and I are planning to make our trip on Friday, if the weather is nice.  I love peering at all the farm animals, admiring the art exhibits, and checking out all the plants and vegetables.  But I have to say, the thing I'm most looking forward to this year is sampling a fried Girl Scout cookie.  I just don't see how you can go wrong if the cookie under all the fried dough is a caramel delite!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Haunted Halloween Exchange *UPDATED*

Last post, I mentioned that I was participating in Terri's Haunted Halloween exchange.  Terri has a blog called Dixiesampler.  I sent my package to Terri, and now that she's received it, I can share what I sent here.
Among the things that I sent, I included a Halloween ornament from this year's JCS Halloween issue.  I think it's the cutest little design (and I was glad to hear Terri say that she liked it too).  In fact, I liked it so much that I stitched a second one for myself!  Here's a closeup:
 and the back:
It's trimmed with silk chenille, and I got the backing fabric from a quilt shop in Maggie Valley.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to find a little package sitting on my own doorstep.  And what a wonderful package it was!  The package was from April whose blog is here, and it was absolutely precious!  It included this lovely little box:
 I just love the pattern she chose to stitch on it!  The inside is lined with beautiful Halloween themed papers and chock full of goodies!
I wanted to wear the socks today, but sadly the heat and humidity are back.  But as soon as I can, I'll be sporting those crazy orange things.  I love fun socks!  So April, if you happen to cruise past this blog, thank you, I loved everything in it!

Monday also brought a new lesson from Thistle Threads in our Cabinet of Curiosities course.  This time, there were actual stitching instructions (previous months have been full of history lessons and instructions on design techniques).  So I've been happily stitching away on a couple of small projects.  In the next couple of weeks, Mom (who is also taking the course) and I will get together and spend a day working on assembling our projects.  I am quite happy at the moment!

I've still got one more layout to try to perfect before delivery time at the State Fair.  Til I write again, hope y'all have a wonderful, crafty week!
*This post is now updated with a link to April's blog so you can check her out if you'd like!