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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!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And Now to Something Completely Different....

Do you ever feel like it is time to do something completely different - break the habit, take a refresher, work on something unexpected? Every now and again I do and the last week has been one of those periods. After three weeks of pretty intense stress (very rewarding, though, but more about that later), I have finally gotten back to stitching, catching up on blogs, and - finally - posting again!
Just a few minutes ago, I finished a couple of "different projects", just for fun and to see what I think about them once they are done, if that makes sense? Here they are: Black Horse and Brown Horse from a vintage Burda magazine.
I am not a horses person and have never been. I mean, they are beautiful, very useful and no doubt wonderful pet, but I have never longed to have one in the back-yard and even less to get up close and personal... This is abut as closely as I will get, I think - but after all, I do live in one of, if not The, Horse States of the World:
I like the style; it reminds me of Biedermeier wool work, even though these horses were stitched with DMC on an unknown piece of linen from the anonymous section of the stash. I stitched the wreaths with a single strand and the horses with two to get a contrast difference (which does not really show up... LOL).
They were both a couple of fun and quick stitches, about three evenings each, and the frames were cheap and on sale at Hobby Lobby - it feels good to start something and run all the way through to a complete finish!
While stitching, I have been watching Dexter seasons 3 and 4. I have a really bad habit of going to Wikipedia when I am in about the middle of a season to read about what will happen next... So, I have not finished season 4 yet, but I already know how it ends... :-b
As far as the horses go, still not sure what to think... do they fit in anywhere in the house... no, probably not. Oh well - I had fun! :-)

Other than that, not much stitching has been done, as mentioned earlier. I pretty much hit the ground running after coming back to Salty Yarns. I prepared and gave to presentations in a couple of societies; one on negative male gender patterns and the impact they have on the professional work-place and the other one abut the Swedish-American sculptor Carl Milles. Both were well received, so well worth every extra evening hour of work.
I also took the chance and joined an innovation challenge at work. Would you believe this: our team won - out of 10 competing groups!!! Among other things, we each get an iPad2 as a prize - I will finally get a "gadget" - wohoo. This says something, since I *still* don't have a cell-phone! (Well, "still" is not entirely true - I did have one in Sweden back in the early 90s. Ericsson is a Swedish company, so we had the highest cell-phone count per capita for years. I still recall painting mine with glitter nail-polish to personalize it and to make it more "glam"... Nowadays, I just don't have enough to say to invest in one... LOL)
What was the first thing I did after I found out what we had won? I hit Etsy to check out all the yummy iPad cases and stands, of course. Then I told myself that I really need to sew my own because 1) I have plenty of cute fabric at home 2) I do own a sewing machine and 3) I really should sew more of my own stuff. Sigh... ;-)

When all the craziness was finally over, I was so happy to take a breather and managed to catch a cold! Isn't it funny how that always seems to be the case? I was too tired to stitch much of anything, even though I managed to finish up a couple of the Salty Yarn class pieces.
This is Dames of the Needle's sweet and colorful needle book:
Here is the strawberry that Barbara Jackson taught:
As you may be able to tell, DH has done one of his once-every-half-year living-room rearrangements. The reason is less thrilling; the big and loud birds were moved back up from the basement, which will get too cold fro them in the winters, and into the aviary, erh, living-room with the rest of mad flocks. Sigh! The nice thing with all the moving around is that I finally got a really nice spot for our beautiful new spool-cabinet that FIL built for us.
I managed to fill this beauty up with no problem!
DH happened to break our floor-lamp in all the shuffling, so we did also invest in a new one plus a matching glass side-table. WalMart is not a bad place to get some cheap furniture! ;-)

Some unexpected goodies arrived in the mail last week too; the latest Loose Feathers from Blackbird designs... I forgot that I am subscribing to them through Silverneede. (I like the "bonus projects" a lot more than the main piece for this series, but there is still time to get dazzled.)
... and a new issue of SANQ (check out the gorgeous sampler with an urn full of flowers! That is definitely one that hit the ole' (and mostly ignored) to-stitch-very-soon list!!!

I did also happen to pick up a wonderful BH&G quilt magazine in the grocery store. Check out my favorite piece - love the fall colors, all the stars and the fact that is is designed to be a table topper (or maybe even an iPad case, yeah!?):

Since we are speaking fall, I can also report that the scraping of car windows and putting on an extra layer of clothing before leaving the house has started here. The garden looks like it is preparing itself to go to rest. It is beautiful, peaceful, yet somber.
Better to stay inside in the warmth of the house and the family, like DH, Bubba and Scrappy:
... or maybe take a hot bath like Henny?:

Well, it is time to hop to bed! Before signing off, please skip over to our Brightneedle blog if you get a chance. Gwen posted her tiny and fabulous Eek! finish there today!

Last, but not least, thanks a thousand times over for all your sweet comments - they truly mean a lot! I am trying to keep up with all of you and check out what you have been up to lately. If I haven't already stopped by to say hi, I hope to do so soon.
Until next time, take care and Happy Stitching,