April Goals

Time to face the music! It was not the best of month for goal stitching, I'm afraid...

Make it to the halfway point on Chess Anyone? - No, probably 35% only
Stitch piece for "Melanie's Exchange" - Yes! This is stitched and ready for finishing.
Finish Ornament RR pieces (two expected) - I did one, the other is waiting...
Finish Kylie's scarf! - Yes!
Finish another "page" on Autumn Queen - Not a single stitch this month
Stitch on L'Epoque Nouveau - Who?

Again, halfway on Chess Anyone?
Finish and mail Melanie's Exchange
Stitch, finish and mail 8-sided Pillow Exchange
Finish remaining Ornament RR - mail both on time
Choose fabric and theme for Foldable Book RR (and mail if appropriate)
Knock off at least two more obligation projects
Start HAS (obligation)
Rework WIP list for rest of year to catch up on goal to stitch on ALL current WIPs this year

Stitching on: 8-Sided Pillow Exchange piece
Reading (Home): Pawn of Prophecy
Listening to: Quiet....blessed, sweet quiet!


Long May She Bake

Multiple bits of fun today - a couple finishes, some stash acquisition and a very yummy recipe!


Last week I finished a couple small things. First was a Blue Bargello Fob by the Sweetheart Tree. Unfortunately I have yet to get a decent pic, so I'll owe ya that one.

The second finish was Shepherd's Bush Long May She Wave Needleroll. You may recall this was part of my recent birthday shopping adventure with DH. I've since "needleroll-ified" it and it's resting happily in a small basket with a few of its kin ;)

I'm busily working on an ornament from the JCS 2005 Ornament RR right now, so no progress on my other WIPs (this month's goals are looking pretty bad....I'll tell ya that right now....)

Stash Acquisition

The mailman loved me today, I'm sure. First, I received Noah's Sampler Reborn from The Silver Needle. I love all things Noah so this was a definite must have! No, I don't know when it will be stitched...but it will someday.

Next, my DH was happy to see the OOP/HTF model chart that he loved at our recent LNS trip. It's Judith M Kirby's Victorian Street Scene (Vol 1 & 2). Essentially if you put both together you get a long street scene (I can't find a pic online!).

Finally, an order from European Cross Stitch. I was expecting Quaker Gameboard from a dear purple someone, but that's not what was in the envelope. There's been a bit of mixup so I'm sending back the chart that I *did* receive but I will admit to a brief thought that I might just keep it instead ;) (It's Sarabande - nice but not quite my style).

In the library department, my uber-fantastic birthday present arrived over the weekend from DH. Leatherbound copies of David Eddings' Belgariad! Pawn of Prophecy is signed by Mr. Eddings and includes a "Certificate of Authenticity" as well. As you can see on the left there, I've already started it. It's been *years* since I read the series and I'm looking forward to questing with Garion and the rest all over again.

This Month's Recipe

On Sunday, I fulfilled a request from K and made her a cheesecake. I found this recipe when she was just a young'un and it's been a family favorite ever since. She's requested it for her birthday cake on more than one occasion and it's a must for many of our family holiday gatherings. I've tried several other cheesecake recipes over the years, but this one is always what I go back to. It's also extremely versatile - I've added mini chocolate chips and toffee chips to the basic recipe with equally yummy results.

Annette's Cheesecake

2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter

3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Combine crumbs and butter for crust and press into 9-10" springform pan (reserve a couple tablespoons for top, if desired). Cover the bottom and about 1" up the sides. Bake for 5 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.

Mix filling ingredients in a food processor with a steel blade or a stand mixer (if using a mixer, let mix for at least 10 minutes) until smooth. Pour into cooled crust and sprinkle with reserved crumbs. (I usually keep a cookie sheet underneath the pan, just in case). Bake for 50-60 minutes until center is set. It'll still jiggle a bit, but it should not be liquid in the center. Let cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

If you want to avoid cracks forming as the cake settles, the only way I've found to successfully achieve a "crack-free" top is to let the cake cool *without removing it from the oven* for at least an hour before putting it in the fridge. Just crack the oven door and let it cool slowly before refrigerating it to let the flavors develop.

Stitching: A Christmas Blessing (JCS05 Ornament)
Reading (home): Pawn of Prophecy
Listening to: Braves baseball!


So cute!

K (DD) needed to scan a picture or two for a school report this week and I couldn't resist showing off my very favorite picture of her as a baby. She's 8 months old here.

Look at that face!

Of course, she's 16 now and while still cute, she no longer wears shirts with little Scotty dogs on them while working on her Advanced Algebra homework ;)


Things I've Learned

Over the last few days I've learned a few things....

The Internet is a big part of our home life.

- On Saturday, our east side neighbor had some yard work done by a contracted party. This happens to be the side of the house our cable is on and wouldn't you know, they managed to cut it. In several places. And didn't tell us. We noticed it Saturday afternoon and called the
cable company on Suday morning to report the outage. They weren't able to repair until today (Tuesday) and it was a loooong weekend. Every time we turned around we thought of something we needed to check...online. DH has been in the midst of researching industries and
jobs and had to abruptly stop. We didn't know the baseball schedule! We'd missed Thursday Survivor and I didn't think to check until Saturday to see who got the boot (I checked from work on Monday). I had agreed to post the winner of the TWBB Trivia contest on Sunday night and I couldn't do that! (I had all the entries downloaded so I was able to pick the winner, at least).

Cell phone + washing machine = new cell phone

- A moment of silence for my old LG cell phone. [pause] I tend to carry my cell phone in my jeans pocket. When I removed said jeans on Friday night, I neglected to remove the phone and when the jeans went into the washer on Saturday morning...well...I spent an hour at the Cingular store on Saturday buying a new LG phone. It's nice, just not what I'd envisioned spending my birthday money on! I suppose given that I've carried a cell phone for 8+ years and never had that happen, I can't complain too much.

If DH accompanies me to the LNS, I spend more.

- As part of my birthday plans, we stopped at the LNS to pick up a chart I had ordered (Moira Blackburn's Green Tree). I left with that chart, Shepherd's Bush Needleroll "Long May She Wave" and Victoria Sampler's "Summer Garden" with accessory pack. The up side of this? DH
paid :D

DH will find the one out-of-print/hard-to-find model in the place.

- Judith M Kirby's Victorian Street Scene. Took me an hour to find a copy online after our LNS visit and I paid too much for it. But he liked it...so....

Not all lottery wins are monetary.

- On Monday I won two "lotteries." The first was the "Random Drug Test" lottery at work. Of course I was notified *just* as I got back to my desk from a trip to the ladies. I had to spend an hour "studying" in the nurse's station with two cups of nasty-tasting water before I could pass the test. The second lottery was for a newly-unoccupied window cube at work. I'll finally have a view!

You should always take your birthday off work.

- I had such a grand time with my family on Friday, I hereby vow to *never* work on my birthday again! It was a wonderfully relaxing day and it was nice to just ramble through the day and not worry about schedule or what I *should* be doing. The Cheesecake Factory was
delicious (especially the Chocolate Coconut Cream cheesecake), the LNS ladies were actually helpful and I found a couple great books at Barnes & Noble (as did K and Z). We also visited the Apple store on a "data gathering" mission which paid off handsomely Monday night with a new iMac and snazzy new printer.

Stitching: Long May She Wave Needleroll
Reading (home): She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
Listening to: Chronicles of Narnia Soundtrack


101 Things in 1001 Days

or..."101 Things for my Birthday" (and the rest of the Mafiosas414 - Terry & Suz)

Now wouldn't *that* be a great day! LOL

Seriously, though, I saw this on my Erin's blog and thought it would make a smashing birthday post. It took me a couple days to come up with the list and eventually it will live on its own webpage, but today is the big debut here. I encourage everyone to give it a try!

The Mission: Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.
The Criteria: Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).
Begin Date: April 14, 2006
End Date: January 9, 2009

1 - Learn CSS
2 - Rewrite website using new graphics and layout
3 - Blog three times/week (barring access issues)
4 - Figure out the presets on my car stereo
5 - Become proficient in Dreamweaver
6 - Make a blinkie

7 - Visit the Mesa Southwest Museum before it closes 09/06
8 - Go to the symphony once per year
9 - Go to the theater once per year
10 - Acquire at least one opera soundtrack on CD that I like
11 - Learn the words to Nessun Dorma
12 - Acquire a book on Monet
13 - Hang a fine art print (reproduction) on the wall in the house
14 - Visit FLW's Taliesin West
15 - Become a member of the Phoenix Art Museum

16 - Average 3 books/month (36/year)
17 - Maintain a list of books read each year on my website
18 - Take a Barnes & Noble University class every six months
19 - Write a mystery novel
20 - Create a journal for story ideas (electronic or paper) and use it!
21 - Read the Lord of the Rings trilogy
22 - Read 10 "classic" novels (domain: Easton press editions we receive)
23 - Read the Wall Street Journal daily for 6 weeks
24 - Participate in NaNoWriMo
25 - Subscribe to a new magazine
26 - Publish something
27 - Memorize a Shakespeare sonnet
28 - Find an online writers' community to participate in

29 - Contribute monthly to my savings account (at least $20/month)

30 - Solve a "very hard" Sudoku puzzle (as received from dailysudoku.com)
31 - Email one new person each week to just say "Hi"
32 - Finish Black & White 2

33 - Get a pedicure
34 - Call Granny at least once per week
35 - Have a "date night" with DH at least six times per year
36 - Sell something on ebay
37 - Update Contacts list in my PDA and cell phone (all "common" numbers should be one place or the other)
38 - Acquire 5 new "presentation-worthy" wardrobe items
39 - Post non-stitching pictures on my blog once a month for a year (12 total)

40 - Finish a Pi Shawl
41 - Finish Stroke of Midnight
42 - Finish a Chatelaine Mandala Garden (big one)
43 - Frame a large stitched piece myself
44 - Learn two new finishing techniques (for small projects) each year
45 - Knit myself a pair of socks (that fit!)
46 - Finish all my stitched Christmas Ornaments
47 - Inventory my chart stash
48 - Inventory my fabric stash
49 - Try my hand at dying floss
50 - Finish TW's Wedding Sampler for my 10th Anniversary
51 - Finish all four Mirabilia Seasonal Queens (Winter is done, Autumn is halfway)
52 - Post daily on the TWBB (barring lack of access)
53 - Post daily on the Rotation BB (barring lack of access)
54 - Send a RAK every 3 months (even if it is just a card)
55 - Participate in at least one stitching exchange every six months
56 - Stitch TW's Celtic Cross
57 - Make a temari a year
58 - Knit a Ravenclaw scarf for DS

59 - Try a new recipe at least twice each month
60 - Create a "master" grocery list
61 - Learn to make tiramisu
62 - Make something from every cookbook I own
63 - Post a recipe to my blog at least once per month
64 - Make eggs benedict from scratch
65 - Bake a cake from scratch
66 - Try one new Christmas cookie recipe each year
67 - Make pasta from scratch

68 - Ride my bike at least twice per week (for 3 months)
69 - Take an evening walk with DH at least once per week (for 6 weeks)
70 - Go one week without Coke
71 - Go one week without chocolate
72 - Give up the snooze alarm
73 - Weight less at the end of 1001 days as I do today

74 - Let DS read to me at least once per week for 15 minutes
75 - Spend time with each of my kids alone each month
76 - Play video games with my children at least once a month

77 - Join a professional organization and attend 3 scheduled meetings
78 - Ride the bus to work at least 12 times/month
79 - Update my resume 4 times per year
80 - Finish the Facilitator Certification program at work
81 - Get a promotion at work
82 - Volunteer at a work-sponsored event once per year

83 - Play a hand of blackjack in Las Vegas (with a real dealer, not a video game!)
84 - Go out of town for a major holiday
85 - Go to an Atlanta Braves baseball game in Atlanta
86 - Visit the Georgia Aquarium
87 - Visit Atlanta
88 - Visit Tennessee
89 - Visit Canada
90 - Obtain a passport
91 - Visit somewhere that requires I *have* a passport to enter

92 - Buy a new bedspread and matching curtains
93 - Buy a set of wine glasses
94 - Use the china that's gathering dust in my pantry
95 - Get a better china storage system
96 - Tear down the wallpaper in the master bedroom and paint
97 - Buy a new bed
98 - Acquire a food processor
99 - Clean out my closet

100 - Update this list monthly
101 - When 1001 days are up, update this list and make a new list.


Odds and Ends

I think I see a pattern here...

No posts for a few days and I come back with a slew o' pictures.

Well, at least you know I'm doing *something* with all the extra time, right?

First, a surprise finally made it around the world:

It's a soft baby afghan for the impending arrival of the one-in-a-million Small.

Here's the latest chessboard pic.

I've got a method now.

For each quadrant, after working the grid (which is involving less and less counting each time...thankfully), I work the knight and then * two squares and then half the pawns on one side. Repeat from * until complete for that quadrant. Stitch bishop.

I am really enjoying this! So much I might just have to do Leon Conrad's Queene Besse Chessboard or the recently released Quaker Gameboard (which is on my wish list ;))

I did put down the chessboard on Monday night to stitch with TW. While I could have sworn I heard faint ballroom music coming from my stash (indicating Stroke of Midnight wanted to come out for a spin) what it actually was was travelling music and so Fortunate Traveler jumped in my hand.

I added the top viney bit on the border and that inside border line as well. He's fighting going back in the WIP bucket, so I might just keep him out again next week.

Oh! I forgot two items on my Obligation list. Two quilt squares due in September.... I guess the coming summer heat just baked them off the list for now ;)

I've also been reading a bit....

I finished Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris today. The series is getting even more interesting though Ms. Harris has the annoying habit of introducing new characters that usually turn out to be the bad "guys" no matter how nice they seem. Gets kinda predicatable...

I also finished Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Well, let me clarify. I finished *reading* the book, but I've since ordered some yarn for a few of the projects in the book so I guess I'm not truly *finished* yet....

This came in the mail this week for my upcoming birthday:
Inspired Cable Knits: 20 Creative Designs for Making Sweaters and Accessories
Inspired Cable Knits: 20 Creative Designs for Making Sweaters and Accessories

I've said many times I have no interest in knitting sweaters in the desert but there are *quite* a few temptations in this gorgeous book. I need to spend a bit more time looking at the inspiring pictures....yeah...

Stitching: Back to Chess Anyone?
Reading: Writing Mysteries


Obligatory Stitching

I was tallying up the impending "obligation" stitching this past week and the list is a bit longer than I thought....

One quick note - I don't consider "obligation" stitching negative in any way. I've either chosen or agreed to work each of these on a set schedule. "Obligation" means there's a deadline...be it hard or soft...there's still a deadline!

That said, here's the list:

Chess Anyone? - I'm borrowing the chart and those pieces always get high priority. I'm about a quarter complete, so a summer finish should be no problem.

JCS05 Ornament Round Robin - so far each ornament has been a quick stitch with mailing on time (if not early). I've got 3 more in each round and I don't see any trouble completing them in the same fashion. I *do* plan to take a break from RRs though until next year.

Victoria Sampler Heirloom Annivesary Sampler - this was chosen by a coworker as part of a fundraising auction last year. The irony? It's my former boss' wife that won the auction....which is probably why I haven't started it yet (though I've had the stuff since November). May. It's got to be a May start.

Enchanting Lair model - She's about 25% complete. I've *got* to finish her by the time I see Laura again and that will be October at CSNF.

Melanie's Exchange - This has a mailing date of May 10th. I know what I'm going to do...just need to get it started!

8-Sided Pillow Exchange - Same as above! Ack!

Seasonal Exchange stitched piece - I know what I'm going to stitch but "technically" it's a July mailing (I say technically as it's a "soft" deadline....I could push it a few weeks). The piece won't take long...just need to start it!

(That's it for exchanges and I won't sign up for any more until after these are out the door!)

Wedding piece - a couple dear friends at work got married last month and took a Hawaiian honeymoon. I'm thinking Monsterbubbles Mele Kalikimaka ornament (2004, if I remember correctly) would be a *perfect* start for a small wedding piece. Remove the stockings and gifts and add a few words, names and dates and *poof* - it's done! I haven't actually pulled the magazine out and verified this, though. Might oughta do that.... I do know I'll be doing it over-2 to make it a little bigger.

JBW Ready Set Go - I picked this out for a coworker's new baby last year. He'll be 1 on May 8th.

JBW Baseball - For a dear friend's baby boy that's pushing 18 months. (And since I know Mom reads this - no, I will NOT take this off the list. I need to just get it done!).

Baby hat/booties (knit) - This baby isn't due until June and won't wear these until at least October here in Arizona. Have pattern, needles and yarn.

Ravenclaw scarf for DS (knit) - as I was making K's Gryffindor scarf he asked for one. Thankfully it's gotten a tad warm for wool scarves, so I've got a few months extension....

Stitching - Chess Anyone? (finished the upper left and moving on to the lower left section)
Reading - Knitting Rules - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Listening - Atlanta Braves baseball!


Lots of Pictures!

It's been a few days with lots of picture opportunities!

First, I received my Spring Exchange from Svenja and it is lovely....

Next, the Spring Exchange I stitched made its way to France (finally!):

It's JBW's Spring Bouquet finished into a biscornu (or 8-sided pillow)

Here's a picture of K's finished Gryffindor scarf:

And here's the replacement project for my daily bus commute:

It's coming along nicely...though that edge roll *really* annoys me! I will add a knitted edge on one side and then the top on the other, so it will get straightened out....eventually....

Lastly, my latest Chess Anyone? pic:

Tomorrow....a roundup of my impending obligation stitching....I've dug myself into a rather sizeable hole I'm afraid...ack!

Stitching on: Chess Anyone?
Reading (bus): Master of the Moon - Angela Knight
Watching: Survivor


Jukebox Hero

I spotted this on an alternate blog and thought I'd play along as DH recently reloaded my iPod.
Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question.

How does the world see you? : Give a Little Bit - Supertramp
I take this to mean I'm a generous soul

Will I have a happy life? : Of Crime and Passion - Duran Duran
I certainly have the passion....is that a crime?

What do my friends really think of me? : Funny Vibe - Living Colour
I like to *think* I'm amusing. Do you all really think so? LOL

What do people secretly think of me? : I Got The Six - ZZ Top
Six of what?

How can I make myself happy? : Song for Love - Extreme
Hmmm...I have love. And I'm already happy. I guess I got it right!

What should I do with my life? : She's All Right - Otis Redding
Thanks, Otis! I think I'm doing all right, too.

Will I ever have children? : Simone - Boz Scaggs
I am *not* having another child! And "Simone" was never considered as a name for the ones I have.

What is some good advice for me? : The Nearness of You - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Nearness of Who?

How will I be remembered? : Desafinado (Off-Key) - Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto
(Click the title for info on this song genre....and this song in particular). Wow. Off-key. Me? Really?

What is my signature dancing song? : Middle of the Road - Pretenders
Not a bad dance tune....but there are *much* more accurate selections on my iPod!

What do I think my current theme song is? : Isn't it a Lovely Day - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
I couldn't agree more!

What does everyone else think my current theme song is? : Jamie's Cryin' - Van Halen
Who is Jamie? And why is he/she crying? What did I do now?!?

What song will play at my funeral? : Middle Man - Living Colour
"Just an ordinary middle man..."

What type of men do you like? : Simply Irresistable - Robert Palmer
Well, yeah. Though I prefer men without red lipstick and mini skirts ;)

What is my day going to be like? : Love is Like a Rock - Donnie Iris
I do come home to my "rock" each and every day.... :)

So, what does this say about me? Well, of the 977 songs on my iPod, I got a decent shuffle and I have *very* eclectic taste in music. ;) Other than that......

Stitching (bus): This (I said it was my next project!)
Reading (home): Knitting Rules
Listening to: The Big 80's on Sirius Radio!


Goals and a Framing Waltz...

I finished-finished Hob Nobb Designs "Chocolate - Need I Say More?" this afternoon, adding the chocolate buttons and doing the stretching and framing. I'm rather pleased with the results. What do you think?

Monthly Goal Review

Finish K's Gryffindor scarf - I've got 55 rows left to do. Hope to finish this weekend....
Stitch Autumn Queen's head - Yes!
Stitch Ornament RR pieces - Yes!
Stitch Spring Exchange piece - Yes!
Stitch on L'Epoque Nouveau and Heirloom Christmas Sampler (WIPs o' the month) - Ummm...they didn't even make it in the house


Make it to the halfway point on Chess Anyone?
Stitch piece for "Melanie's Exchange"
Finish Ornament RR pieces (two expected)
Finish Kylie's scarf!
Finish another "page" on Autumn Queen
Stitch on L'Epoque Nouveau

Stitching On: K's Scarf!
Reading: Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Listening to: 4 16-yr-old girls here for DD's birthday sleepover...LOL