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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!