If you would like to write me more in private, please send me a line at OneStitchNirvana@gmail.com

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wishes, Stitching Updates & Greetings from Assorted Pets

God Jul and Merry Christmas to Everyone!

I won't bore you with lame excuses regarding my absence this time, so I'll jump right into the stitching updates. :-)
I am currently concentrating on a very pretty design by Brightneedle from the Better Homes & Gardens Keepsake Calendar 2002. This calendar contains a few more designs that are on the must-stitch-one-day list.
Anyway, this design looks beautiful in the photo, but is not turning out quite as fabulous. It was funny, when I pulled all the DMCs for the design, I was thinking to myself that it was amazing that all these bland colors would add up to something so warm and radiant looking. Well, let me tell you, it doesn't... My version, ironically stitched on a warmer linen hue to make it even cozier looking, does look quite blah... Right now, I am trying to tell myself that it may look a lot better after I iron it. As if! :-)
The photo below shows my blah-version and the photo from the calendar. Know what I mean? Luckily, I am almost done now. I have the brown outer-most border left and the light-blue checks in the inner box left, so I have a feeling that I will get it over with today. You never know, I may end up loving it once it is done (and ironed...).
I have already collected a bunch of material to stitch Brightneedle's "Lo, How a Rose" soon, so maybe I'll be luckier with that one? I did actually pick up a bunch of WDWs that are not listed in the instructions, but I thought that they looked better together and closer to the cover-pic. I tell you, some of the designers seems to just find the best photographers out there.

I did manage to finish up the little candle-holder wraps and send them off to Sweden (but probably not in time for Christmas). The turned out pretty cute and were so easy to make. I thought that the finish was going to be really tricky, but it was surprisingly easy.
Of course I forgot to give one to my MIL, so that won't happen until next year! LOL

I did also finish stitching my favorite mistletoe ornie. I like how it turned out, but I haven't even begun thinking about how to finish it.
If I haven't already told you, I am incredibly frugal about my linen usage. I have found that my scanner is a very useful tool for figuring out how many more designs I can fit onto any tiny linen cut. I am guessing that for this piece, one more mistletoe heart will be stretching it. What else to stitch in the small naked area? Hmmmm...

I also joined a pretty cool new 2012 challenge; Measi's WIPocalypse! Maybe this challenge will keep me on track better than I managed to keep myself focused this year? This is one of the project that will be on my list (Sandy Orton's American Sampler):
I have actually stitched a teensy bit more on this one, since this photo was taken. Another project is my nemesis, TW's Peacock Sampler. Sigh! I really need to get that one done.

I did also decide to sign up for the TUSAL again, even though I totally messed everything up the last month. Too many things going on at work combined with getting the flu, made this last month pretty painful to live through and I had to let go of a lot of things that I would normally have kept up with.
Recall that I wrote about Lucia and planning and organizing this big event for the Scandinavian Heritage Society? Well, that day I was in bed with muscle pains, chills and the full circus... I had even taken the Friday off from work to bake lussebullar, so the timing was pretty terrible. (Isn't it odd that so many of us keep getting sick over our vacation more often than not? I am definitely on of those suckers.)
Luckily, some individuals in my household were more than happy to eat the lussebullar. Here is Henny taking a bite:
Yum! Henny likes!
Others were more skeptical - here is Scrappy surrounded by her new admirers Pebble and Nibbler. It is so funny, these three have broken off and started their new flock. Both Nibbler and Pebble, who are siblings, think that Scrappy is completely irresistible. Nibbler even did the "fluff my neck-feathers, stretch out really tall, and start struttin' and dancin'" routine the other day. Scrappy was very, very impressed.

The bunnies have had a less great time the last couple of weeks. First, their mommy took them in to the vet's for a pedicure and while in the vet's office, they were turned on their backs and rooted around upon. At the pick-up, the vet told mommy that Bubba is a girl and Princess is a boy... So there you have it; Murphy's law applies to bunnies too. DH now calls Bubba "Bubbette" and Princess is "Princess-Dude"...
No more than three days later, Princess did something really bad, very demonstratively to Bubba in the middle of the living-room. If the vet had not already told us, we would have been able to figure out the gender of the bunnies all by ourselves - say no more! So, back to the vet's on the following Friday for the big snip. Princess was up and running right after waking up form the anesthesia, while Bubba has been pretty tender and not real interested in food for the last week or so. She is finally coming around, but i was a bit worried there for a while. She and I did take a lot of naps together over the first weekend (she had been snipped and I had the flu, so we were miserable together.... LOL)
Here they are, talking about a not-so-pleasant experience.
"No mommy, we are not talking to you anymore!" (Note how they are the best of friends all the sudden though! I guess that traumatic experiences tend to create close bonds between the individuals involved. Plus Princess doesn't try to hump/pie on Bubba all the time. That may have helped the situation a bit too....)
Princess has also learned that certain spots in the house are warmer than others...
DH cracks me up - I have to tell you real quick - at least once a day, he lifts the bunnies up one by one and holds them as close to his face as possible, eye to eye, and ask "Who's the alpha-bunny?" and answers "I'm the alpha-bunny!". It is pretty funny to watch, but I am thinking that he is talking to deaf ears.

Anyway, here is the ambitious pile of assorted Christmas finishing work that I had hoped to get to (no, we never eat at the kitchen table. Luckily!). Not gonna happen this year, but I can always get a quick jump on it for Christmas 2012.... By the way, with all the fabrics I have, I find it quite fascinating that I still don't seem to have enough cool and pretty Christmas fabrics to suit me. I am just a brat! LOL

Again, have a wonderful Christmas with many hours of wonderful stitching!
Best wishes,

Friday, December 9, 2011

Still Alive and (slightly) Stitchin'!

Dear blog-friends - it is finally time to sit down and do this! It is a great day! The ground is covered with frost (including a bunch of really confused spring-bulbs that had decided to take full advantage of the unseasonably warm and long fall), the feather-dusters and bunnies are still in bed (yes, the former are protesting), and I am home on vacation from work! Can things get any better - yeah, I forgot the steaming cup of tea I have next to me!

I have signed up for absolutely nothing today! I may take in the bunnies for pedicures and maybe even go in for one myself - different salons though. ;-)
I may go to the grocery-store and maybe I will even bake for tomorrows big shindig - who knows!? Clean the house and laundry? Oh, I don't think so.... Maybe a stitch or two though.
You see, I am one of those people who save my colds and sicknesses for my vacation. It gets pretty old after 30 or so years, but that is just how I function. I wouldn't care so much if it wasn't for the fact that it seems to always coincide with the Scandinavian Heritage Society's Lucia celebration, which is something as foolish as having a bunch of people, dressed in thin night-gowns, sing carols in the dead of winter (December 13th is the Lucia Day in Scandinavia). That said, it is a beautiful celebration. The symbolism and the merger between the pagan mid-winter blot and Christianity was quite clever, and the yummy traditional lussebullar that are served are to die for (baked wit real saffron, they are also quite costly to make).
It’s said that Sankta Lucia (St. Lucy) was condemned to be burnt for not wanting to marry a pagan, but she resisted the fire. Another story says she secretly took food to the poor at night and carried a crown of candles on her head so she could see where she was going. A third story has her taking out her eyes to convert a Prince to Christianity. All stories somehow make it possible to connect her with light which is important, because the 13th December is not only the day Lucia died (a sword finally got her), it was also known as the shortest day of the year (before the Gregorian calendar was adopted), the winter solstice, which of course has pagan roots. In other words, Lucia is the bearer of light and Lucia Day a celebration of the days getting longer again - as you can imagine, that is really important up in Sweden where the days are very short right now. This year the shortest day in Stockholm will be December 22nd, where there are only 6h 04m 43s between sunrise and sunset.
To share with you the feeling of a Swedish Lucia celebration, I have to show you a few pictures:
Lucia (St. Lucy) - she can be "official" as in elected by the Swedish people or by the town people or just selected to do the honors at home:
The Lucia processions and choir.
It can be huge (I was a part of this one many years when I was a child):
It can be small - note the tomtar (small gnomes) dressed in red up in the front:
...but the importance of light is always the central message:
Last but not least, the lussebullar - YUM!!! (The drawing below shows some of the traditional shapes that the lussebullar are baked in):

So, any stitching going on here lately? Well, not a whole lot, to be honest (I have been stash-shopping quite a bit though - dos that count? LOL)
Last year I fell in love with the Xmas gift that Big Dog gave L-bug; a cinnamon dipped candle in a vintage candle holder with a stitched candle-wrapper from Homespun Elegance (she has a bunch of really neat special offers on her site every now and then). Anyway, I called and bought seven kits to stitch for family and DH (= myself, hehehe). All the wrappers have been stitched up and they just need mounted around the super-cute vintage candle holder, which is red and in the shape of a star.
The nice thing is that they stitched up pretty quickly and after making just a few, I did not have to follow the pattern anymore. I am assuming that her new Merry Noel Rounds are about the same size - and I love those Homespun Elegance Christmas birds too!
Anyway, here they are:

I also noticed that I really want to stitch mistletoe themed decorations this year! I am not real sure where this urge came from, but here it on of them in progress (taken from the special Xmas ornie issue, no 13, from the superb French magazine Creation Point de Croix this year. I buy my copies from Violarium in Finland):
It doesn't look like much yet, but I think that it will be sweet! After learning that the French word for mistletoe is "gui" (and I have already known what "grille gratuite" means for years - try to type that phrase into Google and click on images - oh, the joy!) I did get my paws on some French on-line mistletoe freebies here, here and my absolute favorite here!)

I did also pull back out the SAL that my buddy Pink and I have been working on for years: Snapperville. She is almost done with the next to last square, so time to get the linen back out. This square contains a horse, so it will be a fun stitch!
As can be seen, we are slowly working ourselves towards the end. The only problem is that neither one of us are too fond of the saying in the bottom of the border, so it is high time to start thinking of Plan B...

Well, the feather-dusters are complaining that none has let them out yet. They have apparently started their mating season and it is certainly no dance on roses over here - trust me. Half of the time, I have to prey fighting birds apart and the other half I have to do the opposite (prey birds that love each other a little bit too much apart, that is).
Speaking of, after finally getting the iPod, I have spent a number of hours playing Angry Birds. It is so much fun!!! How come that anything is more fun in a game than it is in reality?

A couple of Mexico photo before logging off:

Take care, Happy Stitching and stay warm!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Viva Mexico!

Happy Monday to All!
Some of you may have wondered where I have been hiding the last few days? No posts and no comments on any of your goodies... Well, I do have a perfectly reasonable excuse; DH and I sneaked off to Mexico for a week. We got back in town yesterday night, the laundry is done, the pets have been cuddled with, and it's back to work tomorrow. All is good.

I did finally receive my iPad2 a day before we left and thought in my naivety that internet would now be set for the week in Mexico - finally, I would be able to catch up on my blog reading (I think that I am 2 weeks behind now and I have a feeling that I may never catch up!). Not so much... The iPad-net works great at home, but DH explained to me that it's because he set it up to work here. So that is great, but still not parade.... You know what I am saying, right?
Today, he added Netflix so that I can watch movies and stuff, which is cool, but the more suspicious part of me feels that this may be DH's strategy to keep me off the TV now when the football and basket ball seasons are starting back up again (at least I believe that they are, hmmm?)
Anyway, here is a photo of the "cool toy" and some of the fabric that I grabbed off Etsy so that I can finish my Hidden Nine Patch runner some day. I am thinking that I will try to use the newspaper print as the border and the green flower prints for the backing.

I hope that I will have time to write more about Mexico later this week, but in the meantime, here are some pics showing the stitching that got done on the plane rides/while slouching by the pool.
I did pack a huge bag of kits. (As in "a hugely optimistic bag" - funny, I am generally so realistic that some claim that I am a pessimist. They ought to see my stitch-n-go bags... no pessimism there, I promise!)
The bag (this is not even all of it - one kit was too large to get into the bag...):
Here is a quickly finished Wobble Gobble by Bent Creek (this is a pretty big piece, since it is stitched on a low count linen with perle cotton):
A patriotic design, also by Bent Creek (Patriotic Coins, I think it's called. Note how I ran out of the border color? I hate when that happens - just 20 more stitches and it would have been a "finish" rather than a WIP... aaargh!);
The one that didn't get quite finished was Bountiful by Trilogy. It showed up that the colors used for the turkey's body and his head were pretty much almost exactly the same in my kit. That was a big turn-off and I was not real keen on whipping him out after that. I will root through the over-dyed floss box here at home and see if I can find some better colors, so that there is a bit of contrast between his body parts (white and dark meat, you know...). This one should finish up in no time too, theoretically. There really is less left to do than it looks. And I do have about one year left until he will go on display too...

Another very fun and creative exercise, that DH and I did together during this trip, was pottery paining. A lady had a well-packed booth down on the beach which contained all kinds of unpainted pottery. You get to pick whatever piece you would like to decorate (she has vases, plates, ash-trays, piggy-banks in all shapes, candle holders, flower pots - you name it!), sit down at a table with probably 20 different paint colors, paint-brushes, water, and wipe cloths. Then, paint your little heart out! The designs have already been outlined on the pottery, so that you can simply fill in the fields. She has a bunch of finished pottery too, that you can draw inspiration from. After you are finished, she adds the finishing touches and fixes any messes, so in the end everything looks amazing! After that, she lacquers and dries the pieces and they are ready to pick up the next day. We had so much fun and look how cool the pieces ended up being:
Let me be rather obnoxious and brag a bit here - the only details that she added on my turtle were the black rings around his eyes and the blue lines on the bottom of his shell. I spent a good 2-3 hrs on him and I had decided not to leave until I was satisfied, so I was happy when it came back pretty much in the same state as I turned him in (yes, I know that I sound smug, but keep in mind that I burned my back while working on him - oh, the pain of the creative process! LOL)! I had so much fun and so did DH and it was great to do something like this together. He was much more clever that I was and painted the inside of his piece yellow. It looks really warm and pretty when there is a burning candle in it! (We tried them out the same night that we came home...) My dark-blue inside swallows all the light up and makes the turtle look like a dark blob sitting on the coffee table. Lesson learned!

Before skipping off to bed, let me show you the three awesome non-stash finds I happened about on this trip. I love all of them!
My silver earrings (they are HUGE!) in the shape of magnolias, I think. They are a gorgeous design by a local artist. Sorry about the fuzzy pic.
The monarch butterfly scarf was purchased on the Cozumel airport on the way home. I almost fell over backwards when I spotted it! A few months ago, I saw someone on TV wearing this scarf and I found it breathtaking. I searched on-line like a desperate person but had to give up after many fruitless hours of scrolling through irrelevant photos and trying out any potential key word that I could come up with. I even e-mailed one of those women's fashion magazine columns where they tell you where stars get their stuff, but my subscription ran out, so I don't even know if I ever got an answer. Here we are sitting at Cozumel's tiny airport, we have 2 hrs to kill before the plane leaves, and I see the very same scarf!!! I love it.
My absolute favorite find - a sugar skull purse from Loungefly. I already have some very ambitions (and probably not so realistic) plans to stitch up a matching sugar skull fob, just for fun. (Here is another cool one and a "cranky Bubba" fob here.)
Once I came home, I confirmed that the purchases were not financial finds as much as "lucky to find" items. The bag is already sold out on-line (I searched a bit to compare prices - did I get taken for a ride or not? LOL), the scarf was pretty much identical to what it would have been here in the US assuming that shipping would be ~$10, and the silver earrings may have been a slight bit cheaper in Mexico than here, but not by a lot. I am happy with all of them and can't wait to "grow up" so that I can be a lady that wears silk scarfs... :-)

Finally, here is a picture showing Bubba and Princess. They are still very weary of each other and we don't let them close to each other without supervision. Look how huge Princess is! She gained probably 50% in weight and it shows. She is a big girl now. Still cute and active as ever, but she does not fir in anyone's hand anymore. Henny is pleased - back to being the smallest body with the biggest personality!

I'll leave you for tonight with a photo showing a stunning sunset on the Eastern side of Cozumel on Friday night. Note the tiny light-house in the middle of the photo!

Take care, Happy Stitching and I promise to come by and visit your blogs soon!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Letting the Machine Do All the Work!

Hi all - thanks so much for popping in! As you may have noticed, I have really tried to come over and visit all of you, but I am still working myself into a zombie at work. In all honestly, I don't really think that all of it can be blamed at work, but the season doesn't help. It is definitely getting darker and cooler out there, but compared to Sweden, it is a breeze! :-) I can't really whine too much; today DH and I finally took a long walk, which I have been promised for about three weeks now. DH calls it "walking the Swede", LOL! The sun was not out and it was really windy for central Kentucky, but it was warm and the trees are just spectacular to look at. We saw hawks and a bluejay and a bunch of neighborhood dogs on the way - it was really nice. I always used to roll my eyes at all those "looking for a future spouse" ads in the papers where people claimed that "taking long walks" were among their hobbies. Guess what - I'll have to do a lot of eye-unrolling now, since that is probably one of the things I enjoy most nowadays...

Speaking of neighborhood animals, we got a new family member! Introducing Princess:
"Hi, I'm Princess. Look at me - am I not the cutest?" "Oh, you are not sure... - we-e-ell let me move closer so that you can see my big eyes and my long, dark eyelashes..."

Bubba is furious! He can not believe that we brought home a white rat!!! I think that he is secretly terrified of her... She is super-energetic and happy-go-lucky, which infuriates him even more. She has jumped over to sniff him a few times (while Bubba has been restrained by yours truly), and he is not at all amused. Back when we got Bubba, I bought him a cozy basket for him to snuggle up in. He simply looked at it, wrinkled his nose, and turned his back to it. In all honestly, it was a tad too small already in those days.... Since then, Bubba has grown quite a bit and DH got him a dog-basket that he loves to sit in. Princess got to inherit the tiny basket:
Princess says: "It takes so much energy to be this adorable. Time for a power-nap!"
Both bunnies are hanging up on top of the couch...
...when Bubba suddenly decides that he does like the tiny basket after all...
"Whaddaya mean I'm "being silly"? I have always loved hanging out in this thing!"

That reminds me of a funny story Littlest Sis told me about our niece, who is turning three in December. She got a baby-brother a while back and is having a hard time readjusting to not being the baby and having to share her parents and all that jazz. The other day, she came up with a pretty clever idea, which she shared with her parents. She thought that it would be great if her little brother could move in with mormor and morfar (my mom and dad) instead of living with her. After mulling things over a little bit longer, she suggested that maybe it would be even better if little brother moves in with farmor and farfar (dad's parents). What is so funny about this is that their paternal grandparents live pretty far away, so they only get to meet them 2-3 times a year, while they hang out with my parents several times a month. That is one clever young lady right there!

Since Princess' arrival on Saturday last weekend, a certain big black rabbit has been even more of a snuggle-bunny than normal. Bubba demands that consistent cuddling is kept up, which means that there has not been a whole lot of stitching going on in the house lately.
I did manage to finish one of my finds form Salty Yarns last weekend. This is Sow Kind Seeds by Bent Creek. It comes as a "Zipper Kit" containing pattern, 18 ct linen, button and WDW perle cotton. I decided to stitch it with tent-stitch over one to make it smaller and I finished it as a little planter sign. The stick was a broken bunny-toy that was finished up with a button tied to the top using a thin ribbon.
A super-quick stitch, easy finish, and now I feel a lot less guilty about picking up so much stuff at Salty Yarns...

Other than that, I have spent a lot of time with my sewing machine. One of DH's co-workers asked if I could help her finish a Christmas stocking that her mother stitched for her husband. Here are the before and after shots:

Since the machine was up and running, I decided to tackle that "scrappy star quilt" that I found in a BH&G magazine a few weeks back. Here are the fabrics I picked out:
Progress on Wednesday night:
The star in the front center is made from a couple of fabric cuts that L-bug gave me last year. It may be hard to tell from the photo, but the dark-blue fabric is star-spangled - how cute is that!? The "US star" will be the center star in the finished piece.
Finally, this afternoon:
I noticed pretty quickly that I enjoy the sewing and pressing steps so much more than cutting the pieces. That cutting process was really boring and I am thinking that this may be what will keep me from doing a lot of patchwork/quilting in the future. Now I only have to find backing, binding and some other assorted fabrics to finish this up with.
Here are a couple of blocks that ended up being left-overs. I am toying with the idea of making a narrow table-runner, but I am not sure that I feel like playing with the cutting mat again... Maybe I'll give it another go one of these days.

After that, I decided to swing right along into a table-runner project that I have been thinking about for a long time. I found some really neat tutorials for Disappearing Nine-Patch runners on-line (here is a link to one of a vast number of tutorials) and decided that I wanted to give it a try. I had always been attracted to the fabric line Authentic by Sweetwater for Moda so when I saw the D9P I finally knew what I would love to use the Authentic fabrics for. The problem is that Authentic sold out really quickly and very seldom pops up at Etsy or Ebay. After searching for the layer cake for weeks, I finally got lucky and here is the result:
Cut, Flip & Disappear!:
While I am at it, I really ought to get this tiny topper done too:
Oh, how I wish that I livd a lot closer to my quilting-buddy L-Bug!!!

Other than that, not a lot of crafting going on. I have been stitching a bit on a gift for Littlest Sister:
I spoiled myself with yet another Vera Bradley bag (from the Floral Nightingale collection):
An article was published in Sweden about my great-aunt Vera Frisen (and thanks an old blog-post, the self-portrait of Vera that my parents own was published!):
Yesterday, members from our SWE chapter (Society for Women Engineers) volunteered at a GEMS event (Girls Enjoy Math and Science) from 10AM to 4PM. I was pretty much beat after that, but it was fun and the girls seemed to learn a lot. We talked about chromatography, color science, and women inventors through US-history. Here are a couple of the slides that we showed:
Really makes one think, right? We are so ucky to be born in this day and age (and in free societies)!

Well, I had hoped to jump over to Stitching Bits & Bobs for some 20% off sale shopping, but I see that it is past 1AM, so off to bed with me.
Take care, Happy Stitching and talk with you in a bit!