Monday, May 31, 2010

Help me! My WIPs are screaming!

Yes, I know I said I wasn't going to think about what to work on beyond my stint on Egypt Garden and then Snow Queen's Slipper. But, my WIPs have other ideas. Lots of them. I'm hearing more voices in my head than usual.

Now that Hanging Gardens is finished, I am once again in single-digit WIP territory. I realize that the Slipper represents number 10, but as I think it's quick from the actual stitching perspective, I am not counting it. Don't you love my logic? I confess that finishing HG is a really, really good feeling. I do have one other project that is pretty close, in terms of hours, to being finished - Elizabethan Sweete Bag. Well, at least the front of the bag is nearly completed. I still haven't decided what, if anything I am going to stitch on the back of the bag. Even so, it's not that large a piece, and so probably represents the closest to another HD. So, ESB has been screaming.

Then there is Medieval Town Mandala. MTM is reminding me that I did make finishing her one of my goals for 2010. I have 2 of the 4 towns complete. It's not a hard stitch, just VERY time intensive. The towns are very densely stitched, which is partly why I get bored quickly when I pick this up. I love the design so very much. And, I know once the towns are completed, I can finish the corners in short order. I'm just having difficulty making myself pick this up again, but MTM is definitely making me feel some guilt.

Evening in the Park is saying, "Hey, you just need to finish me. I've been a WIP forever. You just need to get me done and gone." She's right. Honestly, I'm not as crazy about her as I once was, but she's still beautiful. I like working on her because I'm over the really intensive parts and moving on to the easier bits to stitch. I'm considering giving this one to my mom when finished. I do think mom will like her. So there is the double bonus of not only finishing a WIP but also finishing a gift that could be a Christmas gift.

Nativity Story Table Runner will continue to get attention every month as it has been this year. So he's not so demanding at the moment. But, I am itching to spend a little time on him because he's a nice break from the complicated Chatelaine Designs.

Misty Morning Vineyard and English Garden Sampler are used to my benign neglect. They get a rotation once a year and are content with that for now. They know that once MTM and EP are finished, I have in my head the thought that I will have a "Year of the Peacock" theme. So, for now, they are actually encouraging me to finish my other WIPs. They want my full attention, eventually.

Pineapple Stitches is a great travel project. So it will probably go to the lake with me next month. It (not far enough along to have gender yet) knows that's what I have in mind, so it's only whimpering softly.

Celtic Quilt is flat out mad. They haven't seen any attention in more than a year. In years past, I used these beautiful squares as a travel project while waiting for Diva at volleyball practice/lessons. But now that she drives herself, I don't have so much need for this. Melissa G brought her Waterlilly Pond Quilt squares to show at the GTG. GORGEOUS! But, they made my CQ squares give me "the look". They are just flat out mad at me. I kinda feel like I should stitch one just to appease them. Forget that I have 3 squares finished and 13 to go. How sad am I?

Egypt Garden is, of course, happy right now as I am working on the duckie band. He knows he gets that band finished and then goes back into the closet for a while. It's all good. Actually, I'm making good progress and may have the ducks quacking merrily along by the weekend. We shall see.

So what do you all think? I should mention that my VERY LONG-TERM goal is to get back to 4 or 5 WIPs of various sizes/designers. Is that laughter I hear? I KNOW. OK, maybe it's more of a dream than an actual goal, but it wasn't all that long ago that I had 12 WIPs. I am making some progress. What do you think I should focus on next? I can use all the help I can get. Oh, click the link at the top left of the page to see my album of WIP pictures, if you want to see how far along they are at present.

June Goals

Thought I'd given up on goals? Ha ha ha! No, May was just the month that got away beginning with Nashville's Great Flood and then all of the girls' end of the school year stuff. So actual planning sort of got thrown out the window. But that's OK because I actually accomplished stuff. Sometimes I think it's easier to get stuff done when you are insanely busy. Murphy's law of time management, or some such. The more time you have, the more you waste.

So, now to think about June and what I want to accomplish this month.

Stitching Goals for June:
  1. Finish "duckie" band on Egypt Garden
  2. Stitch 10 hours on Nativity Story Table Runner
  3. Start stitching Snow Queen's Slipper
  4. Post final sign-ups for the Chatelaine Smalls Exchange, assign partners, etc.
  5. Mail my own entry for the Chatelaine Exchange
  6. Take Hanging Gardens to the framer
  7. Make hotel reservations for the Houston Quilt Festival

Non-stitching goals for June:

  1. Stick with eating plan - lose 6 pounds
  2. Exercise at least 16 days
  3. Do the Body Pump class every Thursday
  4. Buy some shorts that fit
  5. Bite the bullet and buy a new bathing suit (UGH!)
  6. Buy some new summer shoes
  7. Let go of guilt over spending money on items 4.-6.

All do-able goals. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Puttin' on my Dancin' Shoes!!

Yep! Hanging Gardens of Semiramis is FINISHED!!!! I punted all household responsibilities today just to finish the beading. Perfectly reasonable thing to do, right? I mean, I was thisclose to a happy dance. Can't let little things like laundry and shopping get in the way. Without further ado, the photo essay (as always, click for biggification):

Hanging Gardens of Semarimis finished 052810
Hanging Gardens 052810
Hanging Gardens 052810b
Hanging Gardens 052810a

The color of the fabric even comes close this time. I am SO excited to have this finished. I have no real idea how I want this framed yet. There is a really wonderful framer in town that Melissa has used to great success, so I might try that out. My LNS is great for basic framing, and they did a decent job on my Indian Summer Reflections, but I want this to be really spectacular. I did think about Jill Rensel, and may still consider her. I'm just nervous about sending her something that took a gazillion man hours to stitch for fear it would disappear.

So what's next? Well, tomorrow is a stitching GTG with Melissa, Dana, and Wendy (no blog, or she's holding out on me). I think I may do a stint on Egypt Garden whilst visiting with them. It will appease the DH, plus I'm up to the duckie band which is a fairly easy stitch. Then, I'm going to start on Snow Queen's Slipper which will be a stitch/finish-a-long with MissyAnn. Beyond that, I'm not planning. Many of my WIPs are vying for attention. We'll just see which one screams loudest!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yes, we have a graduate!

Last night was Perfectionist Child's 8th Grade Graduation Mass and Ceremony. Because I am a proud mom and this IS my blog, I am about to gush about my youngling. You have been warned.

First, the pictures. I happen to think she looked beautiful and oh-so-grown-up! Here is PC in her finery:

Rachel's 8th grade graduation

And then a photo of my two gals - because Diva can't stand being left out!

Rachel and Courtney

For the record, yes, Diva is wearing 4.5 inch heels. PC's are 4 inches, and PC is STILL taller than her older sister. Neither of them yet tops five feet tall, though PC has high hopes of reaching such a lofty height.

In Diva's words, PC "wrecked shop" on the academic awards presented following Mass. She was awarded the highest GPA in the following classes: science, social studies, English, Spanish, algebra I, and religion. And, the natural progression - she had the highest overall GPA in the class (for the combined three years of junior high as well as her eighth grade year). For her participation in the National Spanish Exam, she earned a bronze medal. She also took third place in the MathFacts competition. DH's favorite award is the one she received, along with one other classmate, for attending this school for the full 11 years (from prek-3 through 8th grade). DH calls it the "endurance award" and said it really should have been given to me. LOL! They also gave the Presidential Awards, which are given on a national basis (90% cumulative average in your classes, plus scoring in the 85 percentile or higher on the standardized tests). PC and about half of her classmates received that award which makes sense as the school is very academically challenging.

After the awards were presented, PC gave the graduation speech. Again, remember this IS my blog. I have included the video of PC's speech for any who wish to listen. It runs a little over five minutes. I am so proud of her! She wrote it herself. She was INCREDIBLY nervous. But she did well and many people commented favorably afterward which made her feel good. She said what made her happiest is that people laughed when they were supposed to!

Afterward there was dinner and a DJ at a local club. The graduates had LOTS of fun. The class moms had this really cool t-shirt made that has on it where each graduate thinks they will be in five years. Quite interesting. LOL. For the record, PC said she will complete her nursing degree at Notre Dame and become an emergency room Nurse Practitioner. I believe her.

A funny from one of the moms - she said it has been many years since she'd closed down a party, kinda sad that it had to be her daughter's graduation party! LOL. Yeah, we stayed to the bitter end. It was PC's last hurrah with her buddies. She's going to a different high school than the vast majority of her classmates. Some she will probably never see again. Others are going to the same high school. Her very closest friend is going to another HS. They have vowed to stay close, and I think they will. They share a first name and have always said they have "twin telepathy". They don't even speak to each other in complete sentences. Very entertaining. These girls are really good together, and I think will always be close in spirit.

So, thus ends a chapter in the history of the Panther family. We have graduated and are now 100% high school focused. Kinda sad to end 11 years at this school, but I'm sure exciting "adventures" await!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Drive-by Post

Today is Perfectionist Child's 8th grade graduation. It's a big deal because she's been at this school for 11 years - since she was three!! And, she has been selected to give the graduation speech (yes, proud mom moment). Pictures and such will follow, hopefully tomorrow. I am hoping to get a decent video of her speech and figure out how to upload to flickr so I can share. That may be beyond my expertise, but we will see. Meanwhile, today is all about PC.

My other piece of news for the day is that I am officially in ALL of my skinny clothes! Weight loss is just a tad over 21 pounds by the unofficial scale. Clearly, I'm doing OK with the dinner meal thing. Mostly, I think the new gym is just really whipping my sorry butt into better shape.

On the stitching front, Hanging Gardens continues to hum along. I'm down to the specialty stitches in the three remaining corner ornaments and then on to beading. I *think* I will be dancin' by the weekend.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I ate food and it didn't kill me

LOL. I finished my six full weeks on the liquid diet with my doctor. Lost 19 pounds officially. Go me. So, I now get to eat real food for dinner. I am quaking in my boots. I can eat either a lean protein (chicken, fish or turkey which can be grilled, broiled, or baked) and two vegetables, one of which must be a dark green veggie OR I can eat a bottomless spinach, mixed greens or romaine salad with fresh veggies and the lean protein on it. White carbs are to be completely avoided at this point. Sounds easy, right? Yeah well, when I asked "how much is a portion?" I got nothing but a smile from the doc. See, her theory is that when she's all done with me and turns me completely loose, I won't be weighing and measuring anything. So, she doesn't want me to start out doing that. Instead, I am supposed to alternate bites of everything and stop eating when I first begin to feel full - no matter how much is still on my plate. For someone raised in the "you better clean your plate because there are starving children in Africa" generation, this is no small thing. I did pretty well last night even though I went out to eat with the ladies from my old investment club. I ordered a small mixed greens salad, trout (broiled), and steamed asparagus. I brought home a little more than half of the trout and half of the asparagus, which with another veggie will make dinner for tonight, too.

Intellectually I know this is the right way for me to progress even though I have another 20-25 pounds to lose. But I am so afraid of reversing my good progress. I just want to be healthy and feel good about how I look again.

On a positive note, I started at a new to me gym this week since mine is still closed from the flooding. Getting back into weight training is kicking my butt. Which is a good thing. I went four days this week, which is good for me because I hurt so much. I'm considering doing a body pump class with a friend of mine next week. I'm a little intimidated by it though.

Interestingly, though I've lost 19 pounds and lots of inches everywhere, I still have not gone down a full clothing size yet. I started out in size 12's - admittedly snug size 12's. But I cannot yet get into all of my size 10's that I wore a few short years ago. I can wear some, but not all. Size 8's are still laughing at me tauntingly. Someone on one of my stitching boards posted about being able to lose two pounds and be in a smaller size while someone else she knew had to lose like 15 pounds to decrease clothing size. I guess this goes in the category of things that make you scratch your head. For me, the biggest size changing issue is my waist measurement. I lose weight there last. So, while I am wearing small and medium tops, my bottom can't quite keep up. Clearly, you don't lose weight evenly throughout your body. Weird, huh?

Well, those size 8's can laugh all they want. I'll be wearing them at some point in the not too distant future. My dream is to be comfortable in size 6's, but honestly, I could be content to be a size 8 for the rest of my natural life, provided my body fat percentage is in the healthy range. That's really the key. I want to be healthy again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hanging Gardens Progress

I am so motivated to finish this! Progress is happening. I am finishing the backstitching at the bottom center of the design. I have to do the little bit of greenery to the outside of each side of the arch still, as well as the repeat of the corner motif on the three corners I've not yet done. Then I'll add the beads and crystals and Voila! Here's the progress pics!

Hanging Gardens as of 051910

And the close up of where I'm working now.

Hanging Gardens as of 051910 close up

I can feel the HD anticipation building. :D No time estimates, but it is conceivable it will happen by the end of the month.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stitching Bucket List Revisited

In my old blog home on Yuku, I created a Stitching Bucket List - a list of designs I really want to stitch before I die. Reasons why these designs have not been started yet range from substantial conversion or design changes I want to make to the project intimidates me for some reason (technique, inadequate instructions, sheer size, etc.) to the fact that my current number of WIPs is waaaay to out of control for me to even contemplate new starts of any magnitude until I have a few actual finishes. But I really do want to stitch these designs. Actually, I want to stitch everything in my stash, but if you've ever been to visit my stash closet, you'd know that I'd need to consume an immortality potion to make that happen. So, the designs on my bucket list are those that I'd be most bummed about if I never got to stitch them. The one stipulation I gave myself in creating the list was that I have to currently own the design. Also, allowing for the fluid nature of stash enhancement and the fickle nature I possess, I reserved the right to change my mind. Just so we've got it preserved on blogger for the sake of future reference, here's the list reproduced as originally documented:

Secret Victorian Garden Mandala by Chatelaine Designs - I adore Victorian houses and gardens. This design has BOTH! I have all the fibers, but no fabric yet.
Queene Besse's Chesse Boarde by Leon Conrad - I've loved this design forever! I want to do it in sepia tones for a very antique look and finish it in a glass top table so you can actually use it to play chess.
Celtic Letters and Heart by M Designs - I want to do this as a wedding or anniversary sampler for DH and me. I saw a pic someone else stitched years ago and have loved the idea ever since. I have the floss I want to use. I just need fabric and a backstitched lettering font I like for the names and date.
Tuscany Town Mandala by Chatelaine Designs - DH and I went to Tuscany for our 15th anniversary. It was a really special trip for us for many reasons. We visited all the places depicted in the design. Much sentiment involved here.
The Nativity by Mar Bek - I've had these charts and intended to stitch this forever. I am undecided about stitching them as one or as individual pieces. I think this would be the sort of heirloom piece my kids will fight over for ages (which makes me smile). Everytime I see someone post about fabric choices for this, I want to play, too.
Velveteen Rabbit by Lynne Nicoletti - This will be for my dear aunt, who is really much like an older sister to me. She gave me the book when I was young. We were poor and I did not own many books, so I read this about a thousand times. She gave it to me for a special reason. I know if I stitch this for her, she will treasure it.
The Desiderata Sampler by Indigo Rose - I have always loved this, but a few years ago, someone on the Chatelaine BB posted pics of a friend's finished Desiderata. This stitcher had replaced many of the bands with intricate beading and additional specialty stitches. I had her send me the pics. They are SO drool-worthy - one of the few things that have ever honestly left me speechless! I want to do my own adaptation of a similar nature. So this will take some planning. I have the resource books to do it. I just need to plan it out.
Deep Peace by Forget-Me-Nots-In-Stitches - Um, I love a challenge? Actually, the sucky directions are why I haven't stitched this already. But, I really want to. Awesome design and gorgeous sentiment.
Peacock Footstool by Jill Gordon - I think the only reason I haven't stitched this yet is because it's in a magazine and I forget about it. Yeah, I have that peacock *thing*. And, the fact that this can be displayed in a non-traditional finished way appeals to me.
And They Sinned by Exampler Dames Design Co. - Missy Ann, are you LYAO? You should be because this is 110% YOUR FAULT! Honestly, I never thought much about this before, but Missy Ann's pictures are beyond enabling. And yes, I must make my own specialty stitch adaptations just like MA. I am so easily lead astray....

And so there you have it. As I read through what I wrote more than a year ago, I can't think of what I'd change about the list. I did establish a goal of starting at least one of these projects each year beginning this year. Once I get Hanging Gardens finished, I am going to choose one of these designs to add to my rotation. Not saying it will get lots of attention, just that it will, in fact, get started. After all, if I don't start them, I can't ever finish them.

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Actual Stitching-related Post!

I've been stitching. Yes, I have. And, I am about to show you proof. Well, I will show what I can. I can't show you my Chatelaine Smalls Exchange piece, which is not only finished, but finish-finished (for the few non-stitchers, that means I finished stitching, AND successfully made it into a...well, I can't tell what I made it into. :p ). That finishing happened on Saturday after a trip to JoAnn's for finishing necessities. However, I CAN show you my progress on Hanging Gardens, which has been considerable since I last shared with you.

Hanging Gardens as of 050910close up

And the full-view, just because I can:

Hanging Gardens as of 050910

Fabric color looks wonky in that shot, but it's a cloudy, rainy day in Nashville, so it's the best I can do.

I am making such great progress on this. I am seriously considering pushing through to the finish on it. With the girls in exams this week and next, I will probably have some good stitching time. At least, I think so. If I don't get distracted by another WIP, a finish by the end of the month is a possibility. Wouldn't that be something?

What's that you say about goals? The flood washed them all away. Really. I mean, the month is one third over. A bit late to document anything meaningful. And, of course, it is exam time. Which means my teenagers turn into something that defies explanation even by hormones, and Robot runs through my house shouting, "Danger, Will Robinson!!!" whenever one of them is sighted in the common areas of the house. This would be the clue for DH and me to run for cover. I have explained to DH that not only should he avoid conversation with Perfectionist Child and Diva for the next two weeks, but even eye contact can be deadly. He's been told, so any injuries he sustains are entirely his own fault. I'll be making the trip to the grocery for the necessary chocolate and caffienated supplies today.

Oh, I have another happy to share! Saturday's mail yielded some long-awaited stash!

stash 050810

I've been waiting for this about a month because some stuff was backordered. There was a bit more, but it's a surprise for someone, so no photo. ;) I really cannot wait to stitch that Just Nan peacock needle thingie! The cutest useful thing EVER! You know, me and my peacock thang!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I lived through the flood and I have internet

If you haven't heard, we had a 1,000 year flood in Nashville. In my area, we got almost 14 inches of rain in about 36 hours, which more than doubled the previous record rainfall for the same time period since they began keeping records sometime in the 1800's. Unbelievable. I won't recount all the tales and stories, but the devastation is pretty horrific. So many people have lost everything and have no flood insurance. In this area, you only get flood insurance if your home/business is in the 100 year flood plain.

My family was extremely lucky in all of this. No damage to our home or the homes of our mothers. The only casualty was my car. As I was crossing the front entrance to our subdivision on the first day of the rains (when we had no idea how bad it was/would be) my engine intake sucked water into the engine. The car stalled, and when we attempted to restart later, a rod bent. The engine block has to be replaced (MAJOR $$$). Insurance company is now deciding whether to repair my car (2006 Toyota Avalon) or total it. They've waffled so much on it this week, I really don't have a feel for what they'll do. Meanwhile, I have a rental car, so I'm good. We lost internet service Sunday - Thursday. I felt so cut off from the world! On the other hand, I was incredibly productive, which, I suppose, speaks to how much time I spend/waste on the computer. Anyway, I'm back and slowly catching up with all the things I do on the 'net.

I have a fair amount of survivor's guilt for getting off so easy when so many are suffering. DH and I have made financial contributions and helped where we can. Neither of us is able to physically able to help a great deal other than carting supplies around. We both have pretty extreme reactions to mold. If I'm sick, I'm no good to anyone. So, though I know why I can't do more, I still feel guilty about it.

On to some happier thoughts (I'm not insensitive. I just can't dwell on bad stuff for too long or I become very depressed). My weight loss is going well. The doc said I was her only patient on Thursday who had actually lost weight during our disaster. I've officially lost more than 15 pounds! I am pretty much in to my skinny clothes, which is a good feeling. I'm not yet up for new clothes shopping as I am really concerned about keeping it off. I have another week and a half of the pure liquid diet and then will begin the transition to real food. The thought of real food scares me to death. But it looks like I am on track to be down 20 pounds by the time I transition, which was my goal.

I do have stitching stuff to share. Hanging Gardens is coming along very well, and I got a stash order in the mail today that I'd been waiting on for about a month. No pics today. Maybe tomorrow when I have more time. Sorry. Oh, and I finish-finished my Chatelaine Smalls Exchange project!!! Of course, I can't show pictures until the actual exchange takes place in June. I used a new-to-me finishing technique I found on the internet. It worked pretty well. There are a few things I would do differently next time. But overall, I'm pleased with how it turned out. It would be something I'd be happy to receive, so I hope it's future recipient will feel the same.