Don't Adjust Your Dial....

This is the new "Acre Look."


2004 The Year in Review (Stitching & Such)

The biggest stat for the year? 40 finishes. I've not had that many finished cross-stitch projects in one year since I started stitching almost 20 years ago. Now, most were ornaments and individual Round Robin stitching but I am still quite proud of them all.

Obligation Stitching

This year I did a bit more "obligation" stitching than usual, stitching Enchanting Lair's Two Hearts Unite for a coworker (and good friend) for their May wedding and crocheting three baby blankets. I've also started TW's Wedding Sampler for my brother's April wedding.

Round Robins

I'm on the second-to-last round of my last "traditional" round robin as 2004 draws to a close. I don't see myself doing another one for *quite* awhile. This one finally burned me out!

However, a new breed has emerged that has drawn me in. The Ornament RR. I completed one RR with great success this year and proceeded to join three more. Two are relatively short (only five members with one month mailings) and have already started and the third will begin soon with six members, if I recall correctly. The wonder of these is that while others are sending me the supplies, all my stitching stays home! And if for some reason I don't like the ornament, I don't have to stitch it (though this hasn't happened yet).

Though once these RRs are done, I'm going to stay away from any more until the next JCS Ornament issue comes out!


One of my goals for this year was to stitch ornaments for my own tree. I'm happy to say I've got 10 stitched and ornamentified ornaments new on my tree this year. Half of them I even finished myself! With all the Ornament RR stitching, I'll have at least another dozen ready for next year's tree and might even manage to participate in the annual ornament exchange on the TWBB (I usually get the ornaments stitched but fail on the last ornamentification step).
I have another ornament-related goal for next year, but you'll have to wait a couple days for me to reveal it ;)

StRIP Club

The Stash Reduction Implementation Project was born this year on the Rotation Board. It was well-timed! At its inception I was up to 39 projects in progress and simply drowning. My initial goal was to whittle that number down to 30 and keep it there until year end.

I'm happy to say I succeeded (Ok, I admit, I'm fudging a bit on the numbers but it's too close not to claim victory)!

Through a combination of retired WIPs, adopted pieces and of course, finishes, I am down to 29 (+ 3 RRs). There's also a *very* good chance of one more finish for this year. I'm thisclose to having Castles by the Sea complete....only a few eyelets, some beads and some border "fill" left.

Retireds: Pannini's Picture Gallery, TW's Tradewinds (I cannot find fabric I like for this) and TW's Unicorn
Adopted to loving new homes: TW's Under the Evergreen, Chatelaine Mystery IV and Chatelaine Christmas Mystery I
Finishes: Eight off the original list, three others started/finished during the year

Of course, I still had to start a few new things (eight to be specific, but three are done!) but only one is what I would consider a "BAP" (Wedding Sampler).

Still room for more StRIPping in 2005 and I hope to extend it to include my copious stash as well. Time to clear some stuff out...

WIP Review

One of the many benefits of the StRIP club was really looking at my list of WIPs and asking the serious question "Am I ever going to finish this? Am I happy with the project?" When the answer is "No" then it's time to let it go. Thus how those retired/adopted projects were identified. There's one more that's going to official "UFO" status as part of the 2005 goals as well. I know I'll get it done someday, but for now it's just not going to happen.

I also realized that I am not a "peacock" person (No, TW's Peacock Tapestry has never really appealed to me....a confession of sorts LOL). I need to be more careful with my "Mystery" stitching - letting the projects get started before I jump in is the plan for 2005. I also really enjoyed "expanding" my crafts with the crocheted blankets. Another hint for my 2005 plans....

Stash Enhancement

Even with all my stitching-related travel, I didn't have anywhere near the stash purchases as the year before. Santa Clara was the largest "shop" by far and even though I was sick at Hershey, I did make the effort to spend a bit in the Mall. Nowhere near my budget.....there simply weren't all that many things that appealed.

Not to say I didn't do *some* shopping. All the new TWs of course, a couple Mirabilias, Victoria Sampler, Lynne Nicoletti, Enchanting Lair, several gorgeous hand-dyes from Picture this Plus and Countrystitch and various other silks and beads and well, those things that *really* caught my eye.

All in all, a good year.


2004 The Year in Review (General)

Ah, 2004. I'll be glad to see you go.

This has been a roller-coaster of a year. Highs.....Lows.....and too many surprises, both good and bad. Let's review, shall we? (Stitching will be covered in tomorrow's blog...)


I recall thinking 2003 had been a challenge as I'd spent a few days in the hospital. That was nothing compared to the two months of pneumonia I've only recently conquered. I hope the axiom "If you have pneumonia once, you're more likely to get it again" is *not* true. I've heard it from a few folks (with appropriate evidence) and I plan to be the exception.

I had great plans for exercise/eating habits improvements. I did manage to incorporate some healthier eating habits (more water, less soda for example) but I've got to do more next year. I see a Resolution for the new year.....


Thankfully, the family is doing quite well. Daughter is doing wonderfully in school and Son is adjusting to 1st grade. A few hiccups with his initial teacher, but we hope to have made the right changes and he'll have a better second semester.

Dear Husband is not working yet, but he has had far more interest in the last few months than we'd seen previously. Answers to resumes and even an interview or two. He's also very close to finishing his MBA and looking into some more technical training which should open a few more doors.


I'm done! That pesky MBA is completed and while I've yet to find an opportunity to put those letters after my name, it'll come someday.


No real changes here. I have had a record amount of training this year and some interesting "adjustments" in responsibilities though none seemed to truly "stick" longer than a few months. The addition of two new products to support, though, *has* stuck on the job description, of course. I did have a nice surprise of a flat-panel monitor on my return from STD this week. That was a *great* Christmas present from the boss!


Six times this year I packed a suitcase and left home for at least two days. Half of these were stitching-related (Myrtle Beach, Santa Clara and Hershey). One was a family/stitching combination (Vegas - August). One was work related (Washington DC) and one was with DH only (Vegas - June).

I can say with conviction that I don't intend to EVER travel that much again in one year. It was simply too much. Myrtle Beach was definitely the best of the stitching trips (Hershey had potential, but my illness made it less-than-enjoyable). The June Vegas trip was *much* better than the August one - for many reasons and thanks to a couple of wonderful BB'ers, the DC trip was just awesome even if it was primarily for work!

For next year I have *nothing* planned. There's a 50/50 chance of a work trip at the end of January (Vegas) and if I do ultimately decide on a CATS show, it will *probably* be the new Nashville one in August. But as of this moment, that doesn't sound appealing.....


2004 brought some major changes to various online communities. One simply imploded and has ceased to be. One was divided, but is healing. One is suffering major growing "pains." One has grown into an even better community which I wouldn't have thought possible (I've always thought it was pretty darn good!).

I've reduced the number of boards I regularly post to and even stopped visiting some entirely. I came to the realization that if I'm "stressing" over a community when I'm not online, it simply isn't worth the time. I don't intend to make a "value judgement" on the various communities, it is simply a personal decision. I prefer to avoid negative/emotional/confrontational communities - this online stuff is a hobby/escape and my real life has plenty of challenges thank you very much. (One exception - I have personal responsibilities on one...ummm...large...board and those will always be honored, no matter what is happening on the board. I have tremendous love and respect for the owner and am proud to call her "friend.")

I will say that if more folks applied the practice: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" a lot of the hubbub this year would have been avoided.


A few friendships have grown this past year. The aforementioned board owner is one. A couple of folks I had the great pleasure to spend time with (during all that travelling) are more dear to me than ever. A local friendship is growing slowly but surely (more limited by geography and family obligations than anything else I think!). I'm looking forward to exchanging email with some online friends from all over the world and learning more about them. (Yes, another Resolution in the making there).

Unfortunately, though, there have also been losses here. One close friendship severely wounded over the summer and no inclination to start the rebuilding process . I have never felt such pain and rancor but I commit to letting that go....right now. It does no one any good, especially me.

A few other folks have me questioning. I've learned the hard lesson of "people aren't always what they seem" yet again - let's hope this time I can maintain that tiny bit of cynicism and avoid painful dramatics in the future.

A Peek at 2005

While a full set of Resolutions and Goals will be forthcoming later this week, here's just a bit of what I'm thinking....

A new blog/website template
A focus on "efficency" and "customer astonishment"
More healthy habits
You can't expect to *get* email if you don't send it.....

I salute you, 2004. A year of surprises and constant reminders of life's true priorities. All I ask is for a *little* less drama in 2005.........


Christmas Recap

First, I hope that everyone reading had as wonderful a Christmas as I did :)

It was a "feast or famine" day for us! Either we were busy or it was verrry quiet and we swung between the two a few times during the day. The perfect Christmas, in my opinion.

I had pre-filled stockings and already had half the gifts under the tree, so once DD was in bed it only took minutes to get everything ready. DH filled my stocking and I was *very* good and didn't sneak a peek!

I think DH and I were awake before the kiddos at 7. We heard some stirring and got up at 8. After some teasing that they had to have breakfast first, we relented and took up spots around the front room for DS to start "playing Santa" and distributing gifts. As he's 6, this was the first year his reading skills were up to the task and he was excited.

We didn't have a huge pile this year, going for "quality" rather than "quantity" as the theme. DS was thrilled with his remote control Incredobile (car from The Incredibles), various Lego sets (Knights Kingdom to Star Wars), new "I Spy" books and a couple Dr. Seuss books. I also found him Spiderman pajamas and a comfy terry robe that he wore all of Sunday. DD was able to mark *several* books off her Wish List, add a new charm to her Italian charm bracelet (a stack of books, rather appropriate), and she is still marvelling at her "big" gift - her own cell phone. We are taking the plunge next month and shutting off our "landline" phones as the only folks that use them are telemarketers......and DD's friends, but they are easy enough to route to the new number.

DH had a short list and I got most all of the items and a surprise or two ;) His Craftsman tool collection is growing as is his Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe library. Thanks to a dear buddy, he's branching into Agatha Christie, so thankfully more fodder for future gifts. We watched "The Name of the Rose" last night - he'd been wanting that DVD for months and I'm glad I remembered it.

Me? Well, I must say I didn't do badly at all :) My best gift was from DH - a minidisc filled with "our songs" and other love songs for me to listen to at work (I have a Sony MD Player). I listened to the 30+ songs while working on Christmas dinner and there are a few I hadn't heard in ages.....only one missing because we don't have the song on CD, but I'll remedy that shortly. My DH also surprised me with....of all things.....stash! Yes, he braved the LNS and found Victoria Sampler's Autumn Garden Sampler and Brightneedle's Can You Spy? from my stash wish list. The other big surprise - the first piece of Precious Moments Nativity (Joseph, Mary & baby Jesus figures). I've wanted a nativity set for ages, so this is the perfect beginning. I won't stitch Precious Moments, but I'll happily display them in a curio cabinet....

Plenty of stitching time will be had while watching Season 1 of both Quantum Leap and the Dick Van Dyke Show. And I can track the time with a new Jack Skellington watch. *And* new highlighters to mark up my charts....I tell ya, I was thrilled with my Christmas by 9:30!

After cleaning up the papers, DH made a quick dash to Walgreen's for batteries and I started breakfast. After eating, kids were examining their new "toys" and I started prepping for dinner.

As I'd kept the menu easy, I had some needed "downtime" before the next wave was to start around 2 when my parents and brother and his fiancee arrived. They all finally arrived at 2:45 and Mom insisted we do "Christmas Take II" before dinner. I had put out some "munchies" and luckily everything else could keep for a bit.

A few highlights -

Brother and future-sister-in-law made out on the small appliance front for their kitchen.

Step-father loved the Archeology dictionary I found online.

Mom was pleased with her "Bootism" book and "Born to Shop" charm

DD added to her "Cow Parade" budding collection with a "Paint Your Own" version and is ready for a vacation with her own suitcase.

DS can now race his remote control cars - Mom found him a red Jeep Wrangler (just like DH has).

DH will proudly wear a Krystals t-shirt (a beloved hamburger chain from the southeast, unavailable in Arizona).

For me, I have a new home for "Floss Central" - a 5-drawer solid Oak chest to hold all my bobbined DMC! I've been drooling over this chest since I first saw it at Hershey CATS in 2003. It is from Patches & Planks and has a permanent home at the end of the couch. I'll be filling it next weekend....might even abandon my current habit of all projects having their own floss set! If I've got everything handy, why keep a set for each project? We'll have to see, of course....

Dinner happened around 4 along with football on our TV and various other chatting. Brother and FSIL left for one more stop not long afterward. Mom and SF stayed for a bit longer and DD left about 7 with her Dad.

The quiet was welcome......all in all a *very* Merry Christmas was had by all.....


Back tomorrow....

I'm back to work tomorrow (Monday the 27th) which means I'm back to blogging!

I'm happy to report that the cough is 98% gone with maybe one or two per day...which I can absolutely live with.

Had a marvelous holiday and I hope you did too :) More detail this week along with a few "Year in Review" posts, a New Years' Resolution or two and 2005 Stitching Goals....


Memes and some not-so-good news

First, the fun stuff......

Sunday Brunch: Colors

"Where does the violet tint end and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blending enter into the other. So with sanity and insanity." -Herman Melville
1) What is your favorite color?

Purple - a deep amethyst purple

2) What colors are your cars?

My Jeep is Patriot Blue and DH's is Red

3) What color are your eyes?


4) What color do you like to wear most often?

Red is what I *like* to wear, but I also have a lot of white and blue in my closet.

5) Name your favorite possession of each color of the rainbow: (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple)

Red - A comfy shirt to wear in cooler weather
Orange - A University of Tennessee blanket - it's heather grey & orange
Yellow - Do I own anything yellow?
Green - Cash is always a favorite
Blue - My Jeep! My new Vera Bradly bag in Seaport Navy....
Indigo - A white-gold sapphire necklace from my DH last year. The stone is a beautiful deep indigo blue.
Purple - I have several pair of beautiful lampwork bead earrings in various shades of purple

Now for the Stitcher's Question of the Week

Obligation Stitching: Yes? No? Maybe?

Maybe. I usually avoid it like the plague with the exception of RR's. I don't really consider that "obligation" as I volunteered! The Ornament RRs are great as if I don't like the ornament sent to me I don't have to stitch it....though this hasn't happened yet LOL.

That said I've started that wedding piece for my brother and I did stitch another one last year...so "maybe."

And for the not-so-good-news....

I'm now in the midst of Pneumonia Round II. DH went to the doctor on Friday and ratted me out on my continued coughing. Dr told him to have me in there to be looked at Saturday (rather than waiting until my scheduled appointment Tuesday) and not surprisingly, the pneumonia is back (though only one side). A shot and more antibiotics were given.... though no "stay home" directive (different doctor). However, with tomorrow's followup I am expecting to be stuck at home at least until I finish the antibiotic course. I did come in to work today for a bit of cleanup and quick transition on open projects.....but I'm leaving early, never fear. In just a few minutes....


Friday Forum - Cold Weather

A chilly Friday Forum....

1) What is your area's winter weather usually like? What range of temperatures are typical? Do you get lots of snow and/or ice? Have you had much snow so far?

Winter in Phoenix is much like fall in more northern regions. According to http://phoenix.about.com the average high temp for December and January is 66F degrees, low is 41-42F degrees. This year we've been 60-70 so far in December.

Snow? Uhhh...no. The closest we get to snow here in the Valley are the ones projected on the sides of buildings downtown as holiday decorations.

2) How do you heat your home? At what temperature do you usually set your thermostat in the wintertime? Do you have a fireplace, and do you use it often? Are your heating bills usually expensive in the winter or about average?

We have an electric heat pump that runs roughly late November to late February. House is set around 73ish and the heater runs mostly at night, not so much during the day (block house retains heat well). No fireplace in this house and the one we had in the old house never got used in the three years we lived there! Our electric bill is quite reasonable in the winter...it's the summer we pay big!

3) What are some of your favorite winter/cold weather activities and/or sports? What type of winter coat do you have, and what accessories do you usually wear with it? [Scarves, hats, mittens/gloves, etc.]

Other than watching football on TV, there aren't any real winter sports here in the desert. Holidays are the big activities and I always like to take advantage of the cooler temperatures to keep the doors/windows wide open and "air out" the house after having it locked up tight in the summer.

I do not own a winter coat. Heck, until this past March I didn't have anything heavier than a sweater! The only reason I bought a jacket this year was due to a trip back east and cooler temps. No scarves or hats in the house. DD does have a pair of gloves she'll wear on chilly mornings on her walk to the bus for school.

4) Do you enjoy winter, or do you prefer a different season? Why/why not? Do you ever suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD] in the wintertime? Do you ever travel to warmer climates to get away from the cold temperatures?

Winter is my favorite season. After all, if you're cold you can always put more clothes on but if you're hot you can only take off so many!

We don't travel to warmer climates but there are tons of "snowbirds" that travel down here. Just try getting into any decent restaurant between 5:30 and 7 without a wait. Won't happen. And watch out for the huge cars with short drivers (the ones you see only hair above the steering wheel) and northern license plates on the roads during rush hour.

5) What are some of your favorite winter foods and beverages?

In January I usually set aside a weekend to make bread. I find making bread a very relaxing thing....the mixing, kneading and the smell as it bakes just makes any remaining holiday stress melt away.

Winter usually sees more home made and canned soup on the menu at home and I find more reasons to bake...everything from cookies, pies and cakes to bread, biscuits and muffins. Keeps the house warm and smelling "homey" :)


The Joys of Online Shopping

I love shopping online for Christmas.

In just a few days and three websites I've managed to make serious dents in my daughter's, my son's and my husband's Christmas wish list. My daughter has blossomed into an avid reader and she'll be starting a new fantasy series next year. Try to hit *any* of the major booksellers retail outlets and find the very first books in an older series. Yeah. Been there, done that and thank heaven for Amazon. A few clicks and I've got books to last her until her birthday in March and books to encourage my son to follow her reading path.

Now it's just a matter of waiting for the packages to arrive.

This is an added boon. *I* know what was ordered. *I* know the contents of those sealed boxes (ok, it's a small risk on the contents.....after all DH once ordered an Atlanta Braves t-shirt and a Florida Marlins baby outfit actually arrived).

Rather than try to fit the contents in my favorite Christmas gift hiding spot, I can simply slip the *sealed* boxes in a not-so-secure spot and let them all stew until it's time to wrap them up. As this is usually just a few days before Christmas I can find a short-term stashing spot in the house for the wrapped gifts. (Gifts don't appear under the tree until Christmas morning at our house).

Santa will be pleased. If Son gets his wish and we leave donuts for Santa on Christmas Eve, he'll be downright delighted. (No, I have no idea where he got this idea...it just popped up a couple weeks ago.)

Now, don't think that I've actually *finished* my shopping nor have to brave the mall or other retailer. I braved the mall last weekend and lived to tell the tale (it really wasn't that bad). I still have to go back one more time to finish off one of the above referenced lists. The item is *way* too heavy to ship from a website. I've also got a few gift cards to buy for family members. There are still a couple question marks on the shopping list as my parents are getting harder and harder to shop for each year (when they have everything, what is left to buy?).

But I've got plenty of time.....16 days!


Can you believe...

...another Happy Dance?

Yup, finished Bent Creek's Winter House this weekend:

Last Thursday I was not ready to go back to the wedding sampler and wanted something "winter-y" but not "Christmas-y." After digging thru my Small Projects box (and finding ornaments I kitted 2 years ago that I've been looking for for weeks) I found this BC Zipper kit. It seemed to fit the bill.

It's on 18-ct linen and stitched over-2 with perle cotton, so it actually came out a tad larger than I anticipated (roughly 5 x 7) but did stitch up pretty quickly.

Both DH and DD made appropriate "ooh" and "aah" noises, but they also both commented on the flying snowman. I pointed out the snow swirls and said "the wind is strong enough to make snowmen fly." They didn't buy it.

Last night I started the tryout design for Chatelaine's Mystery VIII. I am testing my fabric choice: Platinum Belfast. The recommended linen color is Cobblestone, but I would prefer something else.....anything else. So far so good with the colors. Look for another finish this weekend.


Three Courses of Memes today...

It's Monday so that means it's a Meme Day....

First, the current Sunday Brunch:

1) Which stone is your birthstone? Do you like it?

My birthstone is a diamond....and yes, I'd say I like it.

2) Do you prefer silver or gold?

Do I have to choose? Ok, gold has a *slight* lead.

3) Name the jewelry that you wear whenever you leave the house.

My wedding ring, two silver rings (one egyptian silver and a celestial designed one from DH), a gold chain (another gift from DH), and my italian charm bracelet (gift from DH and kids last Christmas). I also usually wear a watch, but not the same one all the time (today is a Mickey one)

4) What is your most precious and valuable item of jewelry?

My wedding ring. It's the most beautiful and precious ring I will *ever* own.

5) Do you carry insurance on any of your jewelry and if not, why not?

I don't have enough to warrant an additional rider on my homeowner's insurance...

Next, the Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

What has been your most interesting stitching related injury?

I have a dreadful habit of holding my needle in my mouth between threadings. I remember catching a taste bud on my tongue in the eye of the needle once...that was painful and I now make sure to keep needles between my lips only!

And a bonus from Sunday Brunch:

1) Do you enjoy flying by air?

Yes. Heck, even the airport hasn't been much of a hassle the last few trips.

2) Do you typically check a bag when you fly or carry on?

I normally check a bag unless it's a *really* short trip (overnight or less).

3) Has an airline ever lost your bag? Describe what happened and if you were compensated by the airline.

Yes and on one of my shortest flights ever. Years ago I won a trip to LA for a movie premiere. Living in San Diego at the time, the flight was not only short, but in a small plane (we're talking 20 people tops). On the flight home, I checked my regular suitcase and my carryon bag was stowed in the nose of the plane (no overhead compartments and no "under seat" storage was available...that's how small the plane was). Flight from LA to SD was uneventful. Got off to pick up my bag and it wasn't there....according to the airline it was still in LA! The airline delivered it to my home about three hours later.

4) Do you eat the airline food?

Peanuts, crackers and soda are readily consumed. I'm suspicious of much else and usually just pick at any other offering.

5) What do you do to pass the time when you fly?

Read. I have occasionally stitched on the plane, but more often than not I don't have enough room to do so comfortably or don't have a project that's "plane friendly." Reading is always good :)


Finishes and the Friday Forum

Let's start with the fun stuff...the pictures.

I know they are *way* late, but just in case you'd like to see my two rugrats as they left the house for Halloween, here are the links:

DD's Vampire getup and DS as a Pirate

They had loads of fun and brought home pillowslips *full* of candy. No, there isn't any left, I pitched the remains before Thanksgiving!

On to the Stitching pictures:

First, here's my progress on TW's Wedding Sampler for my brother's April 30th wedding. This is only about a week's worth of stitching and I'm cautiously optimistic I can finish it in time for the nuptials.

Here's the latest entry for the Wee Beasties Round Robin: Suz's 22-Spot Ladybug. It only took a couple days to stitch which is *significantly* less than I thought it would take! I've now stitched all three of the golden bugs from Wee Beasties #8...guess it's time to move on to a new design LOL.

My DH has been incredibly wonderful during my prolonged illness, so I took a couple days and stitched this piece for him. It's by Twisted Threads and entitled "I Simply Love You" (what a surprise, eh?). I used Coffee'd Calico SilknColors on white Jubilee. I still need to make it into a small pillow for his desk....lvoe you muches, baby :)

This month saw the end of one Ornament Round Robin and the beginnings of another. I stitched Noel by Forget-Me-Not-In-Stitches way back in May as my ornament for the round ending this month and stitched this Sue Hillis design as the last one in the Round Robin. I love every ornament I stitched and wish to give my sincere thanks to Laurel for not only coming up with the idea and criteria for the Ornament Round Robins but for shepherding *multiple* rounds thru! I don't see myself participating in any other kind of RR for a long time to come. (If you're curious, check out the Ornament RR Board)

The RR beginning this month is for Dragon Dreams Chrismyth Ornaments. Five participants, we each kit up two of the ornaments for all to stitch. My first package arrived just before Hershey, but I didn't stitch up the Dragon and Unicorn until after I got home. I kitted the Giant and Griffon, but didn't stitch them before I sent them on....

The JCS2004 Christmas Ornament magazine was filled with *beautiful* choices this year! Two immediately jumped out and were stitched up: Silent Night by Indigo Rose and Joyful Christmas by Donna Vermillion Giampa. The Santa was selected by DH and it's fairly large. It went to the framer rather than be finished as an ornament.

Still with me? Almost done!

Two more Ornament RRs are starting based on the JCS2004 issue. The first one starts in January and I finished my ornament for the group: here. The second round is a "DMC-only" group and actually starts in just a few days. This is the one I'm sending out today for it. If you are part of either group and want a surprise...don't look!

And finally, the Friday Forum: Snail Mail

1) Do you enjoy letter writing [as in snail mail]? When's the last time that you wrote someone a letter or a note? When's the last time that you received something in the mail from someone [not including regular stuff like bills, junk mail, etc.]?

Yes and no. If I have pretty stationery and a good pen, letter writing isn't bad. I will send a card before I'll send simply a hand-written (or even typed) letter. As most of the folks I "correspond" with are available either by email or by phone, that's the usual method of communication.

During my illness I received a couple "Get Well" cards in the mail from online friends. They indeed, made me feel much better :D

2) Do you plan to send out holiday cards this year? Why/why not? Do you spend a lot of time on them? About how many holiday cards do you usually send each year?

Yes, a box of holiday cards is on my shopping list for this weekend. As one box is usually sufficient, it doesn't take much time to address and sign them all. One year I did use printed address labels, but prefer the "personal" touch of a hand-written address. Return labels, absolutely, unfortunately I haven't had any ordered since we moved, so I'll be doing those by hand as well....

3) Have you ever had a penpal? Where and when? How long did you write to them, or are you still in contact with them? What kinds of things did/do you talk about with them? How did your penpal relationship come about?

I remember keeping in touch with friends from summer camp while in grade school. Sadly when I stopped going to camp, the letters stopped as well.

4) Do you feel that you have good penmanship? Did you ever have to take a handwriting class in school? Do you prefer typing letters or writing them by hand? Have you ever had your
handwriting analyzed?

When I take the time, yes I have good penmanship. I vividly recall learning cursive writing in second grade! All those posters on the wall and endless sheets of tan paper with green lines. I wish my son would have the handwriting lessons I did, his printing is atrocious. (Yes, we make him practice at home....I even made up sheets on the computer with all the appropriately spaced lines). Even DD could use some practice - I don't remember ever seeing/hearing about handwriting drills in the lower grades with her.

I prefer typing - I can type *much* faster than I can write and the backspace button is great for editing ;) I've not had any handwriting analysis done.

5) If you could receive a personal, hand-written letter from anyone in the world right now, who would you choose and why? Why would you want a letter from him/her?

There are lots of folks I'd love a hand-written letter from, but I won't list names. Many would never see this and I'd hate to pressure those who would. Letters, in my opinion, make a personal "connection" and there are lots of folks I feel I've lost that connection with.......

Maybe I'll write a letter or two myself....

That's all for today! If you've read this far, I hope you enjoyed some of it :D See you Monday....


It's Movie/Book Chat time!

During those loooong six weeks of convalescence, I watched a few movies and read a few books. I won't bore you with the entire list, but pick a few of the highlights:


VanHelsing - this was a rental and I'm glad we did that rather than invest in the DVD that would probably not be watched again. I admit, the sweeping effects were probably way more impressive on the big screen, but on my 50" TV they just looked over done. The effects totally overwhelmed the story (IMO), and that wasn't all that difficult given the tenuous storyline presented. I don't usually mind movies taking some "creative license" with well-known legends, but I think they went WAY overboard in this one. I could see the inclusion of the werewolves, but Frankenstein's monster and Jekyll/Hide? C'mon....

Hugh Jackman is always a pleasure to watch onscreen, but he couldn't seem to decide if he wanted to have an accent or not. The required "witty sidekick role" had the potential to be incredibly overdone, but they managed to keep it reasonable.

The Ladykillers - DH rolled his eyes when I requested this rental with the comment "Another Southern Stereotype" movie. Being from the South himself, he tends to take umbrage with the occasional "extreme" stereotypical Southern male. I had the impression this was a "period" movie for some reason....maybe Tom Hanks character?

DH, DD and I watched the film in its entirety (DS saw some, but bedtime came in the middle). We all laughed and really enjoyed the film! The characters and the twists were very entertaining and the music was amazing. I was surprised to see it rated "R" - though given the language in the movie, I see the point. I won't look at a garbarge barge the same way again....

Gone With the Wind - This new Special Edition DVD appeared in the mail as a gift from a very dear friend. GWTW is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I really enjoyed watching the new "fresh" version - colors are vibrant and the score is beautifully rich. I haven't made it thru all the "extras" on the 4-DVD set, but I'll get thru it all eventually.


The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis - I'd heard so much about this series that I just had to give it a try. As first books go, it isn't bad, but now that all the characters are well introduced, I'm looking forward to the next book to move a little quicker. (Note: to buy this book try UK Amazon, it's readily available on their site)

And Be A Villain by Rex Stout - DH and I watched both seasons of A&E's Nero straight thru in the last weeks, so it seemed natural to read a bit of him, too :)

Blood Rites Jim Butcher - Book Six of the Dresden Files. The fact I'm still committed to the series, should tell you how much I like it....

Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson - I read this on my Hershey trip and I liked it *much* better than her last two offerings. The murder victim is quite a surprise if you've kept up with her series ;)

The Novice by Trudi Canavan - the second book in a great trilogy. I'm on The High Lord now. Not speeding thru as I want to really enjoy it!


Morning Habits

This week I'm trying to get back into my morning routine.

Routines are funny things. I've had the same routine in the morning for years now, the only changes being what time it starts. Currently it begins between 6 and 6:30, just depends on how many times I smack the snooze bar. This gets me out of the house between 7 & 7:15 and on "normal traffic" days I'm in the office at 8 +/- 15 minutes. I am not one to stress about being here at 8:00. Thankfully this company is not full of "clock-watchers."

While I was out for the last six weeks, my routine changed a bit. No need for an alarm clock on most days, so it was turned off. On the days I did have to leave the house in the morning (usually a doctor's appointment) the noise of the kids getting ready for school and DH getting ready to run DS to school was plenty to wake me up.

The funny thing? I still found I needed something to get the brain going in the morning. No work to do and I couldn't face a computer that early, so I found myself listening to local talk radio (DH's morning habit) and working a word puzzle or two at breakfast. I sat down at the table every morning with a light breakfast (toast or pastry and juice), a freshly sharpened pencil (yes, stolen from my son) and a Cross-Reference puzzle book from the UK (sent by the incomparable Fiona - I've yet to find a good source here in the US for these particular puzzles). A bit of cryptogram exercise with the added spice of UK spellings (not always a factor, but now and then one sneaks in) and I was ready for the day.

Of course the rest of the day was primarily spent watching movies or finding something of interest on daytime TV (even with a satellite, that was a huge challenge most days). I did manage to stitch a bit and read and of course napping was very important.....

Now that I'm back to work, though, I kind of miss my morning puzzle. Might have to modify the routine just a bit ;)


Just when I thought it was safe to breathe....

First, the "good news" is that I'm well enough to return to work as of today. For those readers remaining, this means new entries a bit more often ;) It's a lot easier to open a window and work on an entry between other work tasks than working up energy to shuffle into the office and boot up the home PC. I found the Blogger interface on DH's iMac was less than spectacular....

Of course I'm not exactly 100%, but part of that is due to a cold! Yes, I was pretty much done with the pneumonia only to be hit with a cold last week. At least the OTC meds help with these symptoms. I feel closer to normal today than I have in weeks.

Let's kick off the week right with the Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week:

Do you know it all or is there something out in the stitching world you still want to know how to do?

Know it all? Good heavens no! There's always new things to try. One of the few high points from my recent Hershey trip was being introduced to needle-felting. Very intriguing! I have yet to give it a try, but one of these days I'm sure I will.

And because I have a few more minutes: Sunday Brunch


1) Do you enjoy shopping at the mall?

I don't avoid it....but I only go with a specific purpose or item.

2) What is your favorite mall food?

Panda Express Orange Chicken! Thankfully they've started opening restaurants outside of the mall and one not far from my house (I talked DH into take-out quite a few times for lunch in the last month)

3) What are your three favorite “mall” stores?

SunCoast Video, See's Candy (Molasses Chips...yumm), and Waldenbooks

4) What is your favorite mall?

My "favorite" is Horton Plaza in San Diego. The one I shop at the most is Superstition Springs here in Mesa.

5) Do you have one special person that you enjoy going to the mall with the most?

Probably my daughter. She's old enough to clue me in on what's "hot" but not too old she won't go shopping with me..lol.


The End is in Sight!

First, I apologize for not posting about my anti-climactic doctor's visit last Friday. The one today actually had *real* information.

Last Friday they did a second chest xray and as expected, I showed improvement for the pneumonia! Still coughing though, so they finally decided to do a blood test to see if I had some more serious version.

In Arizona we have a local pneumonia variety called "Valley Fever." It's serious in that there really are no drugs currently available that will do much for it. You either get over it eventually, or you don't (especially troublesome for the elderly, young children and pets). There is a blood test to determine if you have or have ever had it, though.

So last Friday they took blood for the test. And I waited for results. And waited...and waited...until today.

Good news! I do NOT have Valley Fever (nor have I ever...interestingly enough having lived here 8 years). I do not have "myoplasmic pneumonia" either (the other possibility they were testing for). This means I have garden-variety viral/bacterial pneumonia. One that's fairly resistant to the antibiotics described, but treatable nonetheless. This also means I can do one more week of drugs (steroids) and that *should* take care of the remaining cough.

I'm cleared to go back to work on the 29th. I still have to rest and take it easy, but the end is definitely in sight! Everyone say "Hallelujah!"

(And I've kitted up TW's Wedding Sampler for my brother...so I foresee a celebratory start this weekend on it LOL)


A Progress Report

Has it been over a week? Sheesh...one would think that I'd have a better sense of time being that every day is the same here in pneumonia-land.

I can happily report that I am indeed, feeling better. Now whether that's because I've finally finished all the antibiotics or because I seem to have more "good feeling" hours than bad ones, I'm not sure. I'm sure part of it is the well wishes I've received here and on the Rotation BB (amongst other BB's). You have no idea how much that helps....

I'm still coughing. The "day" cough medicine doesn't help much (makes me lightheaded) but the "night" cough syrup isn't bad. It's just filled with codeine and knocks me flat after an hour. Not exactly something I can take during the day....

I rarely have the "breathing thru wet tissue paper" feeling, which is a BIG improvement. I haven't had a cough-till-I-can't-breathe episode for awhile either. Not to say I don't have bad coughing still, I certainly do. For some reason mornings and evenings are the worst.

Tuesday evening we went to DS's Veteran's Day program. First time I'd been out of the house this week and I'm afraid I coughed thru a good part of the 40 minute program :( I stayed in the back of the auditorium and muffled as best I could. We had plans to see "The Incredibles" today but that is on hold in order to avoid annoying the rest of a theatre audience. {sigh}

Tomorrow I go back to the doctor for a second chest xray to see if there's improvement (I'm sure there will be) and evaluate further treatment and my short-term disability leave. Fun.

Oh...one bit of good news this week. My baby brother is engaged (he's 30). His fiancee is wonderful and with the wedding planned for April, I think I might manage to stitch something for them. The question is what? TW's Wedding Sampler? Dragon Dream's Fantasy Wedding Blessing? Victoria Sampler's Heirloom Wedding Sampler? Anyone know of a wedding sampler with a motorcycle on it? LOL


I'm still alive....

I still have pneumonia. It's officially "bilateral" - hey, when I do something, I do it all the way!

I'm now on short-term disability leave from work with the earliest return date Monday, but at my current rate of recovery, that ain't gonna happen.

I've watched a ton of DVDs, more TV than during the entire rest of the year, drunk gallons of water and tea and read 3 books. And of course, stitched a bit (though not a huge amount - the cough is so draining I end up dozing quite a bit).

If you can spare a healthy thought or two, I'd appreciate it greatly.



That's the final diagnosis for me.

Just got back from the doctor with much stronger drugs and a prescription to "read some good books, watch TV and get lots of rest" until further notice.

I have no idea how often I'll be online in the next few days...probably very little, so think "well" thoughts and I'll be back soon.


I'm alive - barely

Just a quick post to say that I did make it home from Hershey but I've been down sick since.

My Hershey trip was not as I'd hoped. My annoying cough was full-blown "yuk" by the time we arrived late Wednesday night. I have to give a huge "Thank You!" to everyone that helped make it at least a pleasant trip! Everyone was incredibly understanding even when I had no voice or had to stop talking to cough for 5 minutes :sigh: I know I missed meeting several folks and I am so sorry! For those I did see, I am usually *much* perkier....really.

I did manage to acquire a few bits, though....

Brushed stainless Dovos (pewter finish)
Vera Bradley Spectator bag (in Seaport Navy)
6 skeins Dinky Dyes silk
Hinzeit "Stitching" Chart
Maureen Appleton Silk Sampler kit (Tea & Crumpets) - gift
2 small Textile Heritage kits (Whiskey distillery and Medieval Knight)
Hershey Street Lamp kit - gift
Flaming Dragon needle-felting kit (large and small)
Couple of Secret Stitcher items ;)
Non-stitching stuff for DH, DS & DD

That's it. If you've ever seen one of my CATS stash listings, you'll know this is an incredibly short list. Mom bought way more than I did - a first.

Now, this doesn't include the awesome gift from Jenni. Her recently hand-knitted bear :) He's happy hanging out here in Arizona in my home office.


Your Assignment....

...acceptance is purely voluntary, of course.

I'm going to be gone for the next few days off to Hershey, PA. Right now the thought of getting on an airplane tomorrow isn't all that appealing as my head is stuffed up....but I'm hoping with some good antihistamines I can survive the multiple-hour trip without killing other passengers.

But that's a tangent....back to the subject at hand.

I'm leaving you with two questions. Answer one or both or none if you so choose :)

The first comes from another world:

Post a memory you have of me. Any memory at all. Then post this in your own blog if you want to see what others remember about you.

Yeah, shameless comment plug, I know.

The second is of my own creation:

What do you want to see in this blog in the next year?

My blog is over a year old (first post was October 1, 2003) and while it's been a mishmash of stitching, reading, and work topics I've been posting what I want to see or what I feel is interesting. Now it's your turn to give me some direct feedback. Go for it!

See you Monday.....


Monday Hodge Podge

Wow, where has the time gone? Lots to catch up on! Let's start with Sunday Brunch:

1) What size is your bed?

Queen size. I'd love a king, but as I bought a new mattress this year, I'm not buying another one anytime soon.

2) Do you prefer fabric sofas or leather sofas? What do you have?

Fabric, which is what we have. I don't like the "squidgy" noises leather sofas make (parents have leather).

3) What wood stain color is your favorite? (Pine, walnut, cherry, etc.)

Cherry. I love the richness of it.

4) What piece of furniture is at the top of your wish list right now?

A bed/dressers/nightstands bedroom suite. We've looked at several but have yet to find *the* set that we can afford and is available. No great rush though.

5) Do you have a piece of furniture in your home that doesn’t seem to fit but that you can’t bear to part with?

If I was concerned about things "matching" there might be a piece or two, but since I'm more interested in "function" everything fits just fine ;)

Weekend Happenings

Well, Sunday was baking/cooking day for me. I find that even though I avoid cooking as much as possible during the week, I still feel the need to spend quality time in the kitchen on the weekends making yummy things. As I had a craving for cheesy-Italian this week, Cheese-Stuffed Shells was on Sunday's dinner menu. And what is an Italian-style dinner without breadsticks? So, a double-batch of garlic breadsticks were made as well. I have to make a double in order for them to last until dinner. Even then we have maybe a half-dozen survive thru the night but never longer than breakfast the next morning.

Dessert is then a must, so I broke out the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook and made a butter layer cake for home and a Darn Good Chocolate cake to bring to work today. I ran out of energy for home-made frosting, but thankfully both cakes are good enough without it.

All this accomplished while I felt like cr&p with monthly aches compounded with the mini-cold I'm working to get over. DH shook his head, but he ate well...LOL.

Stitching-wise I had hoped to finish the Vermillion Santa ornament (A Joyful Christmas - JCS 2004 Ornament issue) this weekend, but I'm not quite done. All the regular stitching is complete, only the backstitch left. And I wouldn't have gotten that far without yet another marathon baseball playoff game last night. I'll be done before Wednesday......

.....which is when I leave for Hershey! Woohoo!


The Greatest Secret of the Ages

Who says that Corporate training is a waste? Ok, I've said it a time or two when I'm sitting in a class bored to tears with a mile-long list of customer requests to handle and reply to.

Far too many times, the "trainer" comes in and starts on his/her great secret to be a better employee and nine times out of ten it's involves making your *work* the focus of your life. I'm sorry, but that will never happen with me. I've had trainers tell me I should spend my personal time reading or taking classes specific to my job. While I have done that on occasion, I refuse to make it either a habit or priority. My time is for my family and myself. Work gets enough hours as it is.

The training I completed last week was different. We spent significantly less time talking about work situations and challenges and more time on personal goals and opportunities. While the training and "takeaways" from the class were easily related to work, they also easily related to other personal areas.

Become a better employee by being a better all-around *person*

What a unique concept!

One of the highlights (for me) of the second day of training was the revealing of "The Greatest Secret of the Ages." This was one of three key components that the instructor, D, lived by in his daily life. (The other two weren't appropriate for our class but he did share some hints afterwards. It left me with great respect for the man.)

Now, is this "secret" any real surprise? No. Is it something I'd never heard before? No. Is it something I didn't already know/believe/act on? Surprisingly, no.

Do you want to know what it is?

Is that a Yes?

I'll take that as a Yes.....I see the smile....

"You create your own world by how you THINK and SPEAK about it"

Interesting, eh? I have been labelled by many as an "eternal optimist" and I happily accept that title. Good stuff happens when you expect it to. Ok, so does bad stuff, but remember, I'm an Optimist. I always look for the good in people. I always assume positive intent. Does this mean I'm always right and never disappointed? Heavens no.... But I'm right often enough that I don't feel it necessary to modify my expectations. Or, if it gets to be more frustrating than I'm willing to deal with, I simply remove myself from the situation (thus my departure from a couple online BBs). There are always going to be folks who insist on trying to disrupt and create chaos where none is needed or welcome.

I am very happy with my world. I've worked hard to get to a technical position with respect and opportunity that is financially stable. I have a wonderful family and marvel each day at my children (sometimes at the trouble they can be....most times at the joy they bring!). I am blessed with a remarkable husband that loves me for *me* and not for what he thinks I *should* be.

I've made a good world and I intend to keep it that way.


At least I could stitch....

My sickness for the past few days allowed me to stitch more than usual. Fever didn't interfere much with my focus and it certainly kept the frogs away. I can still feel just the remnants today, but I had to come back to work (I am *not* dipping into my planned PTO for next week's Hershey trip!)

Here's what I accomplished since Saturday:

Shepherd's Bush's Spooky Sheep
This was a gift from my Secret Stitcher was just *too* cute to sit in my stash for more than a few days. I'll turn him into a little hanging pillow for my cube at work.

Wee Beasties Round Robin
This is for a certain wondering someone and is the Fourteen-Spot Ladybug from Wee Beasties #8. Looks simple, eh? Don't be fooled - this bug took 20+ floss colors and more fractionals than a comparably sized TW.

Ornament Round Robin
One of my last Group 2 Ornaments (Lindy - don't look if you don't want to know!). I do like this designer's work but had never actually stitched anything by her. I did leave off some metallic - I liked the look much better without it.

Ornament RR

Other than stitching (primarily while watching football and the baseball playoffs - {sigh} season over for me....) I also got sucked into the new Laurel Hamilton Incubus Dreams. I can say it probably didn't help the fever much....whew....steamy!



I'm on day two of fever and general yuckiness so I'm using a day of time off to rest and hope it burns itself out. DS had it for two days and was fine....let's all hope that works for me. I am getting stitching done. Pictures later....

And the Braves pulled it out. Of course I was too nervous to watch, though. Heaven knows what I'll do tonight!

Stitcher's Question of the Week

You've just been given a $100 gift certificate to buy anything cross stitch or needlework related - what would you spend it on right now?

Hmmm...my first thought is using it for the Secret Stitcher and Seasonal Exchanges I'm in. I've got two folks with *great* Wish Lists and I'd love to whittle them down in the next several months :)

For me, it would have to go to supplies for Chatelaine's Mystery VIII. The winter theme is definitely *me* and while I've signed up for the group, I've yet to order the kit. That's usually a Hershey purchase, but as European Cross Stitch won't be there this year, I'll have to order it direct.


Sunday Brunch

First, let me say I feel "blah" today. DS came home from school on Thursday with fever and guess who has one today? Yeah, me. Along with sneezes, a few coughs and a sore throat. Braves are royally *sucking* in the playoffs and not a decent football game on (I hate Dallas). I'll be breaking out the DVD's here soon.

At least I'm getting some stitching done.....finished my Ornament RR and Spooky Sheep is almost done. Last on today's agenda is the WBRR. Might manage a few pictures for tomorrow's blog ;)

But for now....Sunday Brunch.

1) What is your favorite Disney movie and why?

Aladdin. How convenient it came out on DVD this week! Robin Williams absolutely *makes* this movie.

Technically this is a *very* close race between Aladdin, Nightmare before Christmas, Sleeping Beauty, Pirates of the Caribbean and Monsters, Inc. All are favorites.

2) Who is your favorite Disney character and why?

Jack Skellington in Nightmare before Christmas. I love Halloween and Jack is da man! Favorite Villian: Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty

3) What is your favorite Disney song and why?

Anything from Pirates of the Caribbean (love the energetic instrumentals), Hawaiin Roller Coaster from Lilo and Stitch, Jack's Lament from NbC

4) Disneyland or Disneyworld? Why?

Disneyland! I've never been to Disney World LOL

5) Do you have any decorations or articles of clothing in your home that are Disney and what are they?

As I was named for members of the original Mickey Mouse Club, Disney 'stuff' has been in my house forever. Recent additions: Jack Skellington purse, various pins (Haunted Mansion, Lilo & Stitch, and NbC themes mostly), Mickey Mouse "2004 Grad" t-shirt, "Best of Annette" CD (had to mention that...lol) and loads of Disney coffee mugs.


Questions and more questions....

This is a shameless theft of Jen's version. It's been popping up on a few blogs this week....

1) What time do you get up?
Only as early as I absolutely need to. 6:30ish during the week, later on the weekends.

2) If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be?
Probably a favorite author: David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Dave Duncan....one of those.

3) Gold/silver?

4) What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

5) What is your favorite tv show?
An Atlanta Braves baseball game. Off-season: Monk, Good Eats, Amazing Race....

6) What did you have for breakfast?
Java Chip Frappaccino and a butter croissant

7) Who would you hate to be stuck in a room with?
Someone who talks incessantly. Yes, I have names. No, I won't post them.

8) What/Who inspires you?
My husband, my children, a beautiful painting or amazing book

9) What is your middle name?

10) Beach, City or Country?

11) Favorite ice cream?
Cold Stone Creamery - Cake Batter ice cream with chocolate chips and macadamia mix-ins.

12) Butter, plain or salted popcorn?
Butter with parmesan cheese and garlic salt

13) Favorite color?
Deep purple

14) What kind of car do you drive?
2002 Jeep Liberty

15) Favorite sandwich?
Black Forest ham with domestic swiss cheese, sweet pickles, lettuce and Miracle Whip on Jewish rye bread.

16) What characteristic do you despise?
Opportunists (at the expense of others)

17) Favorite flowers?

18) What is your dream vacation?
A month touring Europe or a couple weeks in Egypt

19) What color is your bathroom?
White walls with wood floor. A southwest-y wallpaper border that really needs to come down....

20) Favorite brand of clothing?
Anything that is comfortable

21) Where would you retire?

22) Favorite day of the week?
Saturday. Work is a memory and still another day left before one must return

23) What did you do for your last birthday?
Dinner with my family and enjoyed their undivided love and attention

24) Where were you born?
NW Indiana

25) Favorite sport to watch?

28) Which detergent do you use?
Soapworks, liquid. Fragrance free and all natural.

29) Coke or Pepsi?

30) Are you a morning person or a night owl?!
Night owl

31) What is your shoe size?
8.5-9 depending on the style

32) Do you have any pets?
Yes. Two dogs (George and Carmella) and three fish (we're building up the tank still)

33) Your favorite season?
Winter - such that it is in Arizona

34) What time is it?
1:39PM MST on Friday

35) Name as it appears on your birth certificate.
Well, you know my middle name and "regular" readers know my first name. Maiden name....if you're indoors, see those things holding up the roof? That's my maiden name (though a slight spelling variation)

36) Nickname?
None that I will admit

37) Number of candles on your last birthday cake?
39 - or at least that's what there should have been with a slightly larger cake....

38) Kids?
A couple. Daughter (14) and Son (6)

39) Hair colour?
Brown with ever-increasing grey "natural highlights"

40) Tattoos?

41) Eyes?

42) How much do you love your job?
Enough to come back every day.

43) Favorite foods?
A nice rare rib-eye steak, salad with lots of veggies and spicy french dressing, brussel sprouts in butter, extra extra sharp cheddar cheese...

44) Been to Africa?
Not yet

45) Been toileting papering?

46) Have you ever been in love?
Yes. Still am.

47) Been in a car accident?
More than I care to remember or count. The last one was December 2001.

48) Croutons or bacon bits?

49) Favorite saying or phrase?
Changes often. Today: "The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules" - Pirates of the Caribbean

50) Favorite restaurant?
Macaroni Grill - Pasta Milano and Ensalada Bleu

51) Favorite non-alcoholic drink?

52) How many times did you fail your driver's test?

53) Do you sing in the shower?
Once in a while

54) At which store would you like to max your credit card?
Target. Where else could I buy DVDs, small appliances, clothes, toys and holiday decorations? Gotta love Target...

55) What do you do most when you are bored?
Surf (online...I live in the desert, remember?)

56) Bedtime?

59) Glass half empty or half full?
Half full

60) If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?

61) What is your most annoying habit?

62) When was your last true vacation?
August trip to Vegas with da family and a few BB'ers.

63) Time you finished this post?
2:04 PM Friday....right about the time my script has finished running. Great timing!

Friday Forum - Senses

1] Seeing: What's the most beautiful piece of artwork that you've
ever seen in person? Where was it, and when? Why does it
stand out in your mind?

Years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Chicago Art Museum for an exhibition by Gaugin. It was amazing, but the pieces that impressed me were in the "regular" collection by Monet. I love landscape paintings and the beautiful colors used by Monet in his works.

I've also visited the museum at Stanford University and marvelled not only at the beautiful paintings but their phenomenal collection of Rodin sculpture.

2] Hearing: How would you describe the sound of your voice?
When it's played back for you, do you like the sound of it? Do you
feel that your voice is similar to anyone else's?

I like the sound of my voice....at least the one that *I* hear! When I hear it played back it sounds far too high. I've been told my mother and I sound alike - in fact, my grandmother has a hard time telling us apart on the phone. It's usually a sentence or two before she's sure who she is speaking with.

3] Tasting: Are there any foods or beverages that most people
seem to like, but you just don't seem to have a taste for?

Coffee, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, green beans, meatloaf, rice pudding, bread pudding....I'll stop there...

4] Touching: Would you consider yourself a "touchy-feely"
person, or do you prefer staying within your own personal "zone"
most of the time? Do you often give/receive hugs, offer
handshakes, or greet others with a kiss on the cheek?

I am a very "touchy-feely" person. I give lots of hugs (if I'm positive they will be received in the spirit intended - I know several folks who prize their personal space). Handshakes - absolutely! Kiss on the cheek...well....that is limited to family members (DH, kids, parents, grandparents, brother...).

5] Smelling: Do you wear perfume/cologne? What kind? Do you
have a particular favorite? What fragrances do you tend to prefer?

I have an odd chemistry that tends to bring out the "bad" side of most perfumes and colognes. There are only a handful that remain pleasant after I've been wearing them awhile. Calvin Klein's Obsession and Camp Beverly Hills (which I can't even find anymore) were the two most commonly found on my vanity for years.

In college I had the opportunity to have a scent created for me. It had vanilla and carnation notes as the main components and a few others mixed in. This was the only thing I wore during college until I finally ran out and couldn't find the fellow that had created the scent. I can still bring back that scent memory now and then...

Now if I want a splash of something, it's a spray of vanilla or lilac from Bath and Body Works. I prefer to stick with just a vanilla body wash as a gentle "clean" scent for everyday.


Baby G has arrived!

I got a call a bit ago that Baby G arrived at 12:36pm EDT! He is 8.5 lbs and was delivered via C-section.

Dad says that Mom and Baby are doing fine and the official naming will be chosen once they have been reunited in Mom's room (she was just coming out of recovery when he called).

:) Yay!!!

Here are the stats!

Name: Luke Warren G**
Born on: October 7th, 2004
At: 12:36 pm
Weight: 8 lb, 9.2 oz
Length: 19.5 inches
Status: Mom, Dad, and Luke are tired after a VERY long day and a half, but doing just fine.


Baby watch....

Today, my bestest online buddy Erin went in for induction for her baby boy. I'm waiting semi-patiently for a phone call from her Mom! I'll post (and email for those folks that have requested) as soon as I hear!

I've been in training today (more on that tomorrow....one blog-gable item stands out) and not online - thank heaven for a cel! LOL


3rs Quarter StRIP Club Update

Why is it that when I have lots of stuff to blog about, I have *no* time and when I have plenty of time, I have nothing of interest to say? This week is definitely the former...

3rd Quarter Update....

This Quarter saw me sincerely StRIP-ping a few small pieces. Six finishes! And even with four starts, the overall trend was fewer pieces in the WIP pile. Of course, I did retire a few pieces as well, which reduced the numbers even more. I am *officially* at 30.

I've employed a "monthly rotation" strategy - planning out the month's stitching in accordance with goals for the same defined length of time. I'm quite happy with my progress. I have yet to hit the plan 100% in any given month, but hey, there's always room for improvement!

Dare I set goals for fourth quarter? Ok, if you insist:

Four Ornaments (outside of the two Ornament Round Robins I'm in)
Finish TW's Castles by the Sea
Finish Apple Cloisonne Ornament (can count in Item #1)
Start Royal Holiday & VS Heirloom Christmas Sampler
Start one other medium/large piece providing I manage to adopt out Chatelaine Xmas Mystery (this will be de-kitted if not adopted. Interested? Email me!)
Progress on at least two other large WIPs

See ya!


Question of the Week - Threads

Thread organization: plastic bobbins, yes or no? How do you organize your threads?

I do use bobbins, but not always plastic. My DMC is primarily on paper bobbins and I have many still in use from my very first batch of DMC in 1987. My growing Anchor collection is on plastic bobbins with the number sleeve held underneath the wound thread to identify the color.

WIPs that are mostly specialty threads or from kits are organized with flossaway bags on a large ring (if less than 30) or in a plastic shoe box or photo box. I flirted with "all-bag" organization for awhile but I'm happy with my bobbins :)


Catchup Time! (Friday and Sunday Memes)

Friday was a zoo at work so there was no hope for the Friday Forum LOL. This weekend I've either been out (shopping with Mom and DD Saturday) or hunkered on the couch (Sunday) stitching on The Vermillion Stitchery's Santa from 2004 JCS Ornament issue (about halfway....yeah, I know I had something else on the schedule for today, but I can still make my deadline dates....no worries!)

First, well, Friday Firsts...

1] What was your first date like? When was it, and where did you
go? What did you do? Did you have a good time?

In all honesty....I don't remember! Must not have been too exciting :
2] Who is the first person listed in your phone/address book?
How do you know that person, and do you keep in touch often?

Here at home it's Angi (http://faeryglade.blogspot.com) and I know her from various and sundry Stitching boards and the community surrounding them.

3] What's the first music album that you ever bought yourself,
with your own money? Do you still have it?

I want to say it's The Beatles Sgnt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band....and yes, I still have it. I even have a turntable to play it on ;)

4] Do you remember your first day of high school, or perhaps
your first day at college? What was it like, and how did you feel?

I vaguely remember my first day of college well over 20 years ago. Finding my way around the University of New Mexico campus was almost overwhelming! I also quickly learned that 8:00 classes were definitely *not* for me....

5] Have you had any "firsts" recently ~ perhaps within the past
month? [For example, trying a new food for the first time, traveling
somewhere for the first time, grasping the concept of something
for the first time, etc.]

This is the first year I've taken a more in-depth interest in baseball. We watched more teams than any other year (thank you DirecTV) and I can spout player trivia better than a couple fellows I work with ;)

And now for some Sunday Brunch:

1) Have you ever ridden a horse?

Yes. When I was a freshman in high school I went to a friend's house in Colorado that had horses. Spent a few days and rode twice.

2) What is your favorite horse story or movie?


3) If you had the means, would you own a horse?

No, I'm not a "horse person."

4) Do you think it would be neat if we went back to everyone traveling by horse and buggy or just an inconvenience?

Hmmm...good question. On one hand a definite inconvenience, but on the other hand it might serve to slow life down a bit and that would be a good thing.

5) Have you ever ridden in a hansom cab?

No but someday I will :)


Monthly Goals and Rotation Update

Goal Review

September Results:

Finish Ornament RR for ontime mailing - yup!
Get WBRR started (no procrastinating this round!) - About halfway done, I'll finish this weekend
Finish one more project - Finished Mini F
Only one start (if I start anything) - Didn't start a thing!
Don't short Stroke of Midnight in this month's rotation - she got her week
Create a list of kitted projects (StRIP Plan Phase II) - I managed a first pass....from memory....

October Goals

Finish WBRR for mailing and choose next lucky bug
Stitch Ornament RR for on time mailing
Start VS Heirloom Christmas Sampler
Start/finish 3 kitted ornaments (from JCS 04)
Have a blast at Hershey CATS! (and keep spending modest!)

October 2004 Rotation Plans

Yes, we have a theme this month :) I've also been smart and scheduled Ornament stitching while in Hershey. There may be some Make-It-Take-It stitching going on as well. One of the ornament weekends will include the first round of the Dragon Dreams Christmyth Ornament RR that starts mid-month.

WB/Ornament RR 10/1-10/3
Heirloom Christmas Sampler 10/4-10/8
Ornaments! 10/9-10/10
Christmas Elegance 10/11-10/15
Ornaments! 10/16-10/17
Santa's Midnight Ride 10/18-10/20
Ornaments! 10/21-10/24
Royal Holiday 10/25-10/31


Pick one:

A - I tried to comment, but it's broke!
B - Comments? I thought you were talking to yourself!
C - I haven't read this blog in ages. Too dull.

Just curious....


Seductive Stash.....

I've been pretty good lately with stash purchases. Meaning I haven't bought much.

Don't laugh....it's really true. Of course it's all relative, but for *me* I've been good.

I also know the "ultimate stash experience" is just three weeks away in Hershey.

But of the stash I have recently acquired, for some reason it isn't content to bake quietly in the garage with its compatriots. It wants to be used. Now. Or at least within some foreseeable time period.

I've managed to hit my goal of 30 wips (thanks to the StRIP Club on the Rotation Board and in fact am at 29 "official" pieces in progress. Of course I've focused on finishing smaller pieces instead of the big ones which will put me in a whole new mess next year...but...well....that's next year.

Here's what is calling (and what is likely to actually be started):

Heirloom Christmas Sampler by Victoria Sampler. This *will* be started next week as part of the VS Christmas SAL on the Rotation Board. I've had this baby since it was first released (in the red/green colorway) and it's time!

Royal Holiday by Mirabilia. I have fabric (Relic by Picture this Plus) and floss. I could start her tomorrow....October is going to have a Christmas theme (more on that tomorrow) and if I manage to finish another of my 29 original wips I could start her

Madonna of the Garden by Mirabilia. DH likes this one. I have floss and fabric for her.

Medieval Tiles by Dracolair. I saw this gorgeous piece in progress in Santa Clara and I purchased the accessory pack (with most of the threads needed) in May. The actual chart was released in September and in my hands very soon after. I really really really like this....really.

Lavender Lilacs by Silver Lining (scroll down the September books). Lilacs are my absolute favorite flower and I ordered this chart (and its Anchor floss) sight unseen. I still need to pull the DMC and am thinking of Waterlily Jobelan for fabric (floss toss hasn't been done yet).

Renaissance by PawPrintings. This wonderful piece was part of a purchase made for a "Graduation Present" from a dear, dear friend. It's waiting semi-patiently. The silks....oh my....

These are only the recent big pieces. I've a list of projects fully kitted and yet to be started here (check the "Kitted Projects" page). I won't detail the dozen ornaments in the new JCS issue...or the big box of "small" projects I have.

I need to quit my job so I can stitch....pesky things like family and all that depend on the income, though. Bother!


Question of the Week

Designer Dreams

Would you or have you designed your own cross stitch design? If you have can we see it?

I have designed a couple pieces in the past when I couldn't find the right design for what I wanted to do.

The first was a baby sampler - more years ago than I care to remember! My best friend's sister was the recipient and I hadn't been stitching all that long, so the opportunity to stitch a remembrance piece was very attractive. Unfortunately I couldn't find any samplers that I thought appropriate so I pulled motifs from Cross Stitch & Country Crafts (a rocking horse, that I remember was the focal motif) and created a border.

The second was a family tree design for my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary. Baney Family Tree I found the tree in CS&CC as well as the border. The apples on the tree are beaded and the wedding rings are done with gold blending filament (Balger back then!). It hangs proudly in my grandparents' home along with pictures of the family gathering we had in celebration.

The one odd thing about this - when I originally stitched the piece, my DS (Zachary over on the left) wasn't even a thought. When the piece was presented, I *was* pregnant but only a few days - didn't know for sure for another 10 days. A year later, Granny insisted I add him to the piece after it was framed. I did with a very small needle and it wasn't removed from the frame...I told her that any "future" additions would be a separate piece!


Sunday Brunch

I know, I normally don't add a blog post on the weekend, but with Erica on the Sunday Brunch and this handy iBook laptop available here in the living room...well...all my excuses are just *poof* LOL.

1) If you had a wedding, what flowers did you have at your wedding?

I had long stemmed red roses for my wedding.

2) What is your favorite flower?

Lilacs. Growing up in Michigan we had a couple *large* lilac bushes outside my bedroom window. They have a distinctive scent and bloom right around my birthday. I love lilacs....

3) Do you have flowers as part of your landscaping outside or your interior decor?

We have a couple blooming cactii in the front yard. That's about it!

4) If you went to your high school prom(s), what kind of flower did you wear in your corsage or boutonniere?

Probably a carnation though in all honesty I don't remember!

5) Do you like to receive flowers as a gift or do you think it is a waste of money?

I love to receive flowers. DH is great about sending me beautiful bouquets at work (usually roses) and Mom will send other flowers now and then. This year for my birthday - a beautiful vase full of purple lilacs :)

Until tomorrow!


Happy Anniversary Kay!

A year ago today, Kay and I were selected as Administrators for the Teresa Wentzler Bulletin Board.

It's been quite a year.....

Friday Forum - Friendship

1] What qualities in a friendship are most important to you?

Honesty is by far the most important quality. I will support and empathize but I will also tell you the truth. That is important to me.

Otherwise, sharing a good laugh, a hobby or interest, advice and wide shoulders to cry on are all present in what I consider "good" friendships :)

2] Who is your oldest friend [in terms of how long you've known the person]? Who is your newest friend? How did you meet both of them, and why do you get along so well?

My best friend in high school is probably the oldest friend that I still have occasional contact with. We go back over 20 years. It's been forever since I actually *saw* her (she lives in Albuquerque) but with the wonders of the Internet, we do chat and exchange the odd email and kid pictures.

We shared a common interest in high school as we were both members of the "A-Hall" gang. Chorus, Band and Drama all were in that hall and we were both in Drama (she also was in Chorus if I remember correctly). It was one of those friendships that just "clicked" and thru the years we've been in each other's weddings, worked together (in California) and shared good times and bad. My first visit to Disneyland was with her....our road trip to a David Bowie concert in Anaheim....marriage troubles....children born....so much.

As for the newest friend - I can't choose just one! I've made so many online friends in the last couple years that it is difficult to name just one.

3] Have you ever met someone, become really close friends with them, and then drifted apart for some reason? How did it happen, and did you ever try to get back in touch with that person?

Not many years ago I worked with a fantastic lady named B (really, we called her by her initial, not her full name). She was actually a "customer" of mine in that she represented a few of the clients I did monthly reporting for. Technically she worked for a different company, though both companies shared office space and her office was right next to mine ;). B was everything I wasn't (at that time): direct, opinionated, forthright and loud. We got along famously because she recognized that I actually *cared* about the work I did and the accuracy of the reports I provided (both scheduled and "on-demand"). We had lunch together a minimum of twice per week. We griped about the boss (both companies were owned by the same man) and gossiped about folks in the office..LOL. We did get together on the weekends occasionally as well.

When I left the company we still were in contact for several months. But when I had to change jobs *again* by the time I got back to her, she was gone. She did call me about a year ago (checking to see if I was available for a position where she was working - I declined) and after promising to stay in touch and get together for dinner soon....nothing more. Hmmm..maybe I'll dig around and find her number....

4] Do you feel that men and women can be good friends? Why/why not? Do you have any close friends of the opposite sex?

Absolutely. I've always had male friends of varying degrees. I believe it *is* possible to separate the friendship feelings from others that can get in the way of friendship. My husband is my best friend now, but I have good friendships with a couple of the fellows I work with as well.

5] Do you tend to make friends easily? Why/why not? Do you have many online friends? Which of your friends lives the closest to you?

I do not make friends easily. I've never been one to be surrounded by a multitude of friends, preferring 3 or 4 close ones that I can keep track of to a variety of acquaintances. While I'm a pretty trusting person, I am not one to share deep dark secrets easily and "hold back" when meeting new people until I get a good impression. I do have a good number of online friends that range from Georgia to California to Maine in the US, but also England and Australia/New Zealand. I've had the good fortune to meet many in person thru various travels and events and one of these days I'll be travelling overseas to meet even more :)


A spelling theme this week....

I spent all day in training on "Customer Astonishment."

Yes, you got it - "Satisfaction" is no longer enough, we now are required to "Astonish" our customers. Be careful you don't "Astound" though, that would be bad...

I will admit, though, the training was pretty darned good. We had an entertaining instructor, the room was freezing and there were lots of written exercises so it was pretty easy to stay awake. It wasn't a huge group (made up primarily of Customer Care folks [aka Help Desk]) so snoring would have been fairly obvious. I also had the joy of sitting next to the IS Director (3 levels above little old me) so I couldn't doodle rotation notes this time...as I usually do in long and tedious meetings!

The final exercise of the day was about giving "improvement feedback" and the instructor used a spelling test to show off the four types of feedback. I did not volunteer as a "victim" - leaving that for four of the guys in the room. They each rated themselves on their spelling ability on a scale of 1-10. Here's how they self-rated:

G: 10
J: 3.5
A: 7.5
JV: 8.63

Yeah, we're a bunch of techies LOL

The four were asked to repeat the words and provide the definition. I got 2 spelled correctly and 2 definitions (not the same words). None of the four spelled their words correctly! Here's the list:

G: obsequious (Got this one spelled right...)
J: onomatopoeia (had the definition on this)
A: antidisestablishmentarianism (Spelling and definition for this one!)
JV: eleemosynary (*No one* knew this one!)

We've got a "followup" session in two weeks to see if we've applied what we've learned.... At least it'll look good on my review next year....as I actually do most of what we were taught. Just need to be a tad more consistent and I'll be astonishing the heck out of my customers :D


Pet Peeves and Sudden Smiles

We all have them....here are a few of mine:

PP: Otherwise intelligent people that consistently misspell simple words: their, a lot, definite, receive, weird....(these are the *correct* spellings people!!!) Try your hand: Spelling Test.

SS: Testing my 6-yr old on *his* spelling words and hearing him get them all correct and spelling with confidence :) (Ok, so his toughest word this week is "now" but he got all ten right)

PP: Sports announcers that cannot pronounce the players' names correctly. "Mr. Miller? That should be Rafael Fur-CALL (as in "I'll call ya") not Fur-CAL (as in California)"

SS: Any baseball game broadcast in High-Definition....ahhhh...

PP: People that insist on passing in the "merge" lane. Just how much further ahead do you think you're going to get?!?

SS: People that let you in traffic when *you* are in the merge lane and just trying to get home

PP: Snowbirds on the road during rush hour (last traffic one, I promise)

SS: Coming home to smell dinner already started and children finishing homework

PP: Having a boss that thinks *he* knows where your career should go better than *you* do

SS: Great coworkers that make the most inane tasks/training sessions fun

Who has more to add? (And just to prove that yes *I* use the spell-checker occasionally - I missed 10 on my first quick pass thru the spelling test! LOL)

(Note to Gina: I'm still hoping to sneak in Royal Holiday before the end of October...I haven't forgotten her!)


Question of the Week, et al....(Sunday Brunch added!)

Lots of little things today so let's get started!

First, I got a much better Finian picture this weekend. Sunlight is amazing at showing *real* colors. Scroll down a bit to get a better idea of his true pigment.

It was a very productive stitching weekend. I finished Mini Mystery F by Chatelaine on Saturday. It will hang nicely with my Mini E in the entry way. For the curious - I won't be continuing with G or H. As much as I love these gorgeous bellpulls, the cost has become a consideration at this time. Also, as part of the whole "Stash Reduction" thinking, it's better to work on the myriad of pieces I already have either going or waiting patiently.

Ornaments are another animal, though. With the new JCS 2004 Ornament issue's arrival, I'm in an Ornament frame of mind . I stitched the Indigo Rose "Silent Night" this weekend (very quick - only 3 colors of DMC and 2 colors of beads) and did venture to the LNS for supplies for a couple more. Sweetheart Tree's Bellpull (minus the paillettes - *why* include those hard-to-find bits?!? The charm alone was $5!), Vermillion's Santa and a third (for the next Ornament RR - can't say - shhhh) are all on the plan for the fall.

Last bit of stitching this weekend was a start on the Wee Beasties RR. Over halfway thru the regular stitching thanks to a couple football games and that new Columbo DVD set ;)

Finally - the Question of the Week....

If you could design your dream needlework/cross stitch shop, what would it be like?

It would have an open floor plan, lots of beautiful models from designers and stitchers worldwide, a convenient Starbucks nearby for late night or early morning caffeine "fixes", a few well-placed PCs for Stitching Board/Blog surfing, a digital camera available for stitchers to snap pics of their WIPs or finished pieces to share with friends online, a comfortable classroom for classes with visiting designers or evening "stitch-ins" and oh yes....the inventory..... fabrics from both traditional companies and the best of the hand-dyed vendors, fibers sufficient to circle the globe and enough gadgets, accessories and charts to tempt even the SABLE stitcher

It *is* a dream, right?

The Sunday Brunch - in honor of my buddy Erica taking on this meme, I'm adding it to my weekly "to-do" list :)

School Supplies!
1) Do you prefer wide rule or college rule notebook paper?

College rule, of course.

2) What is your favorite writing instrument?

A nice fine black pen

3) What is the one office or school supply that you can’t live without?

I have a calendar book that lays out each week on the double open page. It holds everything from work tasks to personal bits and pieces and I'd be lost without one each year. Yes, I also have a PDA but there's still that satisfying *something* when I make notes in my little book.

4) Staples or paper clips?

Neither! Gimme a file folder or for really thick stacks a binder clip.

5) Describe the contents of the top of your desk.

How much space do I have here? Here in my cube my desk is currently a mess! I've been meaning to clean it for a few days . Here's just a sample:

Laptop in docking station and all its peripherals.
Candy dish (Creme Savers)
Harry Potter cup filled with writing instruments
MicroStrategy tall cup (ice water)
Cisco IP Phone
Wire file folder rack (but the folders are laying on the desk)
MC Escher Desk Calendar
Secret Pal Coffee Cup (for tea)
Various Post-It cubes
MacIntosh Apple Votive candle (Yankee candle - it smells good, can't light it!)
Dilbert Business card holder
2 JD Robb books....

I'll stop there....I really need to clean my desk...