The Joys of Working from Home

Today, I am officially working at home.

I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon and rather than drive in and leave really early, we have the option of claiming a "telecommute day" and putting in our eight hours at home on an "adjusted" schedule (I logged in a bit earlier than normal).

Just so you can see I really am working - this is my home office wall:

These are reporting requirements for some work I'm doing. They've been transcribed into Excel (thanks to DH) and now I'm expanding them with technical and application requirements....

The point is that yes, I'm really working.

But as I had the camera out anyway....and there's some decent light coming in (not great light being that it's overcast today) why waste a picture snapping opportunity?

This is Autumn Queen's head. You *should* be able to click on the pic and see the full WIP picture. She's coming along. I've now completely finished the two sections "above the top fold"

Next month's goal will be to finish her neck and shoulders and continue to work down filling in wisper, beads and all.

Finishing AQ's head allowed me to start a "loaner" chart that arrived in the mail on Saturday. I fell in love with this design (DH is a chess player) when it was being worked by a couple of board members, but by then it was already unavailable from EGA (It's a Group Correspondence Course design). I was absolutely thrilled to get an email from a purple someone earlier asking if I'd be interested in borrowing the chart for awhile. You bet!

Fabric is white murano (like I mentioned...overcast day) and I'm using DMC 300. As I plan to have it framed in a cherry frame, the floss color is brown with just a hint of red tone.

This is one-quarter of the grid (upper left) complete in regular crosses (chart suggests Smyrnas....if I was using a 25-ct or lower fabric, yeah, I could see that for coverage. Thankfully I'm not as I really hate Smyrnas). I've got my six little pawn fellows up there (stitched so they are reversible....not that that is a priority but the directions were easy to follow and memorize that way). First blackwork square is started.... it's #32 of 32. Why start at #1 and be predictable? LOL

A few other working-at-home benefits:

A trip to the bathroom doesn't lead to several mini "hallway meetings"

"Business casual" takes on a new dimension - t-shirt, sweatpants and socks. Dogs are curled up under my desk so my toes stay nice and warm.

Lunch is "free" - no trip to the cafeteria today!

One heck of a short commute (bedroom to office. Done.)

Phone doesn't ring as much and only one person (DH) to "drop by" with the odd question or request.

I can have multiple cups of fresh brewed Irish breakfast tea in my favorite mug and DH will even make it for me.

I have an assistant (DH transcribed the charts for me into Excel).


No bus commute means no progress on K's scarf.

Tomorrow, though the calendar will say Tuesday, it'll feel like Monday.

I'm missing today's Sudoku puzzle on my desk calendar.

Temptation to stitch a bit or play a game or two is pretty big.....but I'm holding strong....

Stitching On: Chess Anyone?
Reading (home): Memoirs of Cleopatra
Listening to (Nano): Beatles' One


My next project....and a meme or two

Still no good stitching pics, so instead I thought I'd show you my next knitting project. I've got 4.2 repeats left on K's Gryffindor scarf which I think is actually doable this month. This is the next project:

The yarn and needles are from my Secret Stitcher and it's *perfect* for that hat.....so a hat they shall be.

I've not done many meme's lately....and a couple have caught my eye, so here we go...

From Booking Thru Thursday:

Do you have any books that are signed by the author?
K and I each have two.

Do you have a story behind the autograph? K was in the midst of reading the Redwall series when I learned that Brian Jacques would be at a local book store for a signing to promote his new series. She got her original copy of Redwall signed.

Her second signed book is Christopher Paolini's Eldest. I blogged about that one here.

Last November I had the pleasure of attending a book signing for Diana Gabaldon and I had a fresh copy of Outlander signed - trade paperback size.

Just recently a BB'er in Oklahoma attended a book signing for Laurell K Hamilton and she was kind enough to have a copy of LKH's newest, Micah, signed for me.

I've hinted to DH that a *grand* birthday present would be a leather-bound set of David Eddings' Belgariad series offered by Easton Press. The first volume (Pawn of Prophecy) is signed by David.....I'll let you know in a month if that hint took root ;)

Stitching Bloggers' Questions

Do you stitch "over one?" If so, describe your experiences. If not, have you considered it?

Oh my, yes. I've stitched over-1 on everything from 25-32 ct fabric, both evenweave and linen. I prefer evenweave 25-28-ct, though with my new little magnifier, 32-ct isn't that bad. The more I do, the more I like it. There are some designs that just cry out for those tiny stitches - Silver Lining flowers and Brightneedle designs come to mind.

Stitching On: Autumn Queen
Reading: Celtika
Watching: Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel



As I can't show off my last two stitching finishes (Spring exchange and a gift), I've resorted to showing framed pieces instead.

I picked these four up on Saturday from my framing boys...

First is Just Nan's Witch Way - taking a picture of a black frame in a black chair wasn't the *smartest* thing I've done lately, but you get the idea. The mats are (bottom to top): black, rust, gold.

Next up is TW's Tropical Dream. The undermat is dark blue and no matter what color combination we tried for top mats, none looked quite right so we left 'em off. Looks good to me!

Next is a matched pair. Both are done with white mats and frames for a "shadowbox" style to keep the butterfly happy ;) Butterfly Lace has a blue undermat and Please Don't Eat the Daisies has a dark pink.

I had hoped for a fifth finish to show, but my search for a suitable frame at Michael's turned up nothing. Thanks to Jenni's recent success with PictureFrames.com, I've ordered one from them instead of searching the town for a brown frame with a 6x6 opening! The cost was what I was prepared to pay anyway and with this I get the foamcore cut for me. A Good Thing.

Another happy surprise while at the framing shop - one of the owners used to stitch (in fact, he's done The Last Supper - a huge piece!) but due to his eyesight failing (macular degeneration) his stitching days are over. He asked if I would be interested in giving his threads, fabric and such a good home.....of course I said "yes!" One of the main reasons I take them the majority of my needlework to frame is how wonderful they are with it - both in selection of frames and mats and how it's treated and mounted (pinned). I am thrilled to inherit T's stash and will use it with great respect.....

Now I'm off to post a "tease" on the TWBB......come on over and see what excitement April is bringing!


A Day Off

Thanks to some last minute delays on one of my biggish work projects, I was able to take today off.


Sleep in....read boards and blogs at my leisure (and actually *post* to them). Play a game or two on the computer (Black & White 2 is calling). The perfect work-unwind day.

Kids are finishing up their spring break, so it's a long weekend for all of us. Nothing special planned other than recharging of batteries for us all.

You might think that since I haven't been posting much, I've been busily stitching. Partially true. I finished the stitching on my Spring Exchange and plan to do the finishing this weekend. I finished the stitching on my Hob Nobb piece, but until it gets buttons, it doesn't look like much (again, on the agenda for this weekend). I started a "surprise" project that is yarn-related (that's all I'm saying) and as that's where the majority of my stitching time has been going....nothing to show. Again, I'm hoping to finish it this weekend and while it'll be awhile before it's ultimate unveiling here, at least it'll be done!

I have been working on something fun for the TWBB that will start next week. I'm working out the final details with TW and hope to post it on Sunday....so keep an eye out! Trust me, if you are a TW fan, you will *definitely* want to be in on this ;)

And finally - I am planning my trip to the Toronto CSNF in October :D Still not sure of details (as to when I'm arriving/leaving) but I can state positively that I am going!

Stitching On: It's a Secret!
Reading: The Treasured One
Listening to: Quiet....shhhh....


And the Rain Came Down...

On Day 144 (of no measurable precipitation), Phoenix got rain.

And more rain.

And even more rain.

In total, over 1" was measured at the airport (the official rain-measuring spot in town).

It started late on Friday night and continued all day on Saturday and into the night. A beautiful bright blue sky was seen this morning, so I think the rain is done for a bit.

Personally, I love spending a day like that curled up on the couch with either my stitching and a good movie or a good book with a bit of music in the background and a cup of tea on the end table.

Sounds good, right?

I spent yesterday in almost the exact opposite way. I was out running around all day. In the rain. And I don't own an umbrella...I live in the desert after all!

I visited the LNS (yes, list to follow), had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory (chocolate mousse cheesecake...yummm), browsed Barnes & Noble (no purchase) and Michael's (a few skeins of perle cotton for K's braids).

I wasn't all alone, though. P, a TWBB member from Germany, was my shopping companion for the day (or I was hers....lol). She was visiting for a work conference and had an extra day to enjoy the retail sites ;) We discussed everything from stitching topics to German school systems and the conversion to the Euro monetary system. Even with the rain, it was a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and spending the afternoon with her!

So, if anyone else has a Phoenix-area destination on the calendar, let me know.....I'm sure we can find *something* of interest around here...

As for the LNS list.....

Moira Blackburn's Time & Season Sampler - this was a new model in the shop. I have said many times that I don't "do" reproduction samplers. They are too muted and "blah" for me. This one, in person, is wonderful (this picture is too washed out and yellow). It's intricate with a rainbow of colors used and I can easily see it hanging in the house. It's also fairly large (12 x 18 on 18-ct). I have a bit of Murano on its way to me....I'm thinking this might be a candidate for the fabric and possibly even done over-1....

Just Nan's Garden Maze (with the lilac charm) - The lilac charm did me in. They are my absolute favorite flower.

Shepherd's Bush Thankful Sheep - To go with my completed Spooky Sheep.

Several other things really wanted to come home with me, but I was able to block their cries....for now...

To close for today, another favorite recipe! In fact, K made a batch this morning and I've just polished one off still warm...

Lemon Poundcake Muffins from Taste of Home Feb/Mar 06
Makes one dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (we leave this out)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking sode
1/2 cup sour cream

3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and extract(s); beat well. Combine flour, salt and baking soda and add to butter/sugar mixture alternating with sour cream. Mixture will be rather thick - don't over mix!

Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before moving to an open rack to finish cooling.

Combine lemon juice and confectioners sugar for glaze and drizzle over muffins. Enjoy!

Stitching On: "Chocolate - Need I Say More?" (Hob Nob Designs)
Reading: Catching up on boards and blogs
Listening to: Midsomer Murders on the Biography Channel


Feast or Famine

It's been that kind of week.... I'm either so swamped that my brain just shuts down when I get home from work, or life is so dull I have nothing to blog about.

At least, that I think you might be interested in reading.

A few odds and ends for today, then....

First up, a finish! This sweet little kitty is the Brittercup Ornament from last year's Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue. It's done on 28-ct white linen with Weeks Dye Works and is over-1. Surprisingly, it took only a couple nights to finish and is just under 2" square. It's the latest finish from my JCS05 Ornament RR.

Very cute. And I'm not even a "cat person." [Yes, I like cats, I just don't own any....]

I'm in the midst of stitching my Spring Exchange piece (which is coming out quite nice if I do say so...) so no more pics. Truthfully, I've not even picked up a needle this week (well, ok, I did pick up a *knitting* needle and added a few more rounds on K's scarf...) so no progress on anything else to show, anyway.

More book finishes...

Sebastian by Anne Bishop. No, it's not the Black Jewels Trilogy, but it is pretty darn good. A whole new world with some interesting twists and turns.

Micah by Laurell K Hamilton. (Many thanks to JH for getting me an autographed copy!) This latest release is a bit on the short side for LKH but it has something that recent Anita Blake stories have been missing: a plot. Yes, folks, there's an actual *plot* in this one! We see AB once again in her role of Animator/Federal Marshall. It's a nice change. Yes, there's a bit of...umm...*that* in there as well, but it doesn't overwhelm the story.

I spent some quality time last weekend playing Black & White 2 . I've made it to Land 7 and won each level by being Good. Big surprise from me, eh? I have this block against playing as an Evil god. Maybe after I finish it and start a new game....

Anyway, if you love epic struggles and a bit of strategy, this is an awesome game.

However, if you tastes run toward more pen & paper games, try The Greatest Dot-to-Dot Book in the World (there are three volumes available). I know...I know....I hear you "I did those as a kid!" Yes, but it's amazing to look at a bunch of scattered dots and numbers on the page and be able to draw something recognizeable with just some straight lines. The kids and I do these and we try to guess what the result will be before we start...and we don't always guess correctly!

Lastly, Sunday's dinner recipe from Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals

Cashew! God Bless you Chicken

1 box jasmine rice

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
Combine chicken in a bowl with:
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced and mashed
2 Tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
A shake or two of crushed red pepper
Black pepper, to taste
-Set aside and let marinate while you prep the rest of the ingredients

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large carrot, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 can (7 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained and sliced
3 heaping Tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1/2 - 1 Cup unsalted cashews
3 green onions, thinly sliced

Prepare rice per package directions.

Heat vegetable oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add carrot and stir fry for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the coated chicken and cook another 3 or 4 minutes (until chicken no longer pink). Toss in the bell pepper and chestnuts. Heat through (a couple minutes). Add the hoisin and toss evenly. Server over bed of jasmine rice and top with cashews and green onions. Feeds 4.

Enjoy! We really liked it....

Stitching On: K's Gryffindor Scarf
Reading (bus): Celtika
Listening to: Mythbusters!


Monthly Goals

Time for the review:

Finish coworker's scarves - Yes!
Participate in the Knitting Olympics (Branching Out Scarf) - Yes!
Stitch any Ornament RRs that arrive - Yes! (Half done with the one that came Monday...cutting it close! )
Finish Please Don't Eat the Daisies - Yes!
Stitch on Emerald Mermaid (WIP o' the month) - Yes!

Finish K's Gryffindor scarf (this is going to be a stretch...)
Stitch Autumn Queen's head
Stitch Spring Exchange piece
Stitch on L'Epoque Nouveau and Heirloom Christmas Sampler (WIPs o' the month)

I've also finished a couple books recently....

Diana Gabaldon's Voyager - this was a re-read but as it's my favorite of the series, it was still wonderful.
Mary Janice Davidson's Undead and Unappreciated - Might just be the best of the series so far!
Rosemary Edghill's Murder by Magic: 20 Tales of Crime and the Supernatural - as usual a mix of good and bad, normal for any short story collection
Terry Pratchett's The Color of Magic - finished on the way home tonight. Not bad...nicely irreverant and entertaining!

Stitching on: Britty Kitty Ornament
Reading (Home): Sebastian
Listening to: Quiet!