Monday, January 31, 2011

A Crazy Quilt

And what is life? A crazy quilt;
Sorrow and joy, and grace and guilt,
With here and there a square of blue
For some old happiness we knew;

And so the hand of time will take
The fragments of our lives and make,
Out of life's remnants, as they fall,
A thing of beauty, after all.

From A CRAZY QUILT by Douglas Malloch

Friday, January 28, 2011


Not only was it drop-dead gorgeous weather (don't go getting all jealous- the rain is back today),

but I had the pleasure of meeting the Flying King of Dirt.

He was such a fast-flying King that he left his Herald behind and had to announce His Own Royalness as he flew. "Da-da-da-DAAAA! I'm the Flying King of Dirt!"

I need some of that enthusiasm and bravado.

Oh... Did you see? Back to the first photo... The chopped hair? Yep. That truly is me. Perhaps you didn't notice, since you don't see pictures of me that often. I haven't had my hair this short since college (a decision I regretted almost instantly). For me, "short" is shoulder-length. And that's how long this haircut was supposed to be. But someone forgot to compensate for my curls (that's the only excuse I can come up with on her behalf), because I resemble Shirley Temple.

And it was even a really awkward style too, until I got so sick of looking at it and took out my scissors to do my own repair work. Now its much better (Seriously! How is that even possible?). But still too short.

Everyone else says, "OH! Your hair is so cute!" Blah, blah, blah. Me? I'd rather be ravishing than cute. And my hair is one of my best features (if I do say so myself). Short just doesn't do it for me. So if you pass me in the street, please do me a favor, and don't say anything, unless its to tell me that you are SO very sorry, and to hang in there for a few more months until it grows out!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

O Happy Day!

I'm Baaaaaaack! My Knight in Shining Armor drove down to the airport last night and picked up the package with our new modem in it, just so I didn't have to wait another day to finally get some internet action again.

I had forgotten what normal loading speeds were like. Our modem has been giving us grief for a bit longer than we realized. Living in the boonies has its drawbacks, I guess. Even this *fast* internet is nothing like what people in more populated areas get. We have to rely on satellite. I can only dream of the flash speeds many of you must take for granted. But who cares? I am able to post again, without taking up half of my morning to do so, and that makes me very, very happy!

I have missed you all.

I have a pile of things to tell you about, but first things first... Today is sunny and will get up to the low 50's, and we will be spending much of it outside getting things done, and soaking in some Vitamin D.

I promise we'll take a porch-swing Peanut Butter Toast break in your honor.

Because You Asked

Let Us Be Truly Thankful, the March Edition materials list:

R&R Reproductions:
35 count Bitter Betty Brew

Weeks Dye Works:
1108 Honeysuckle
1269 Chestnut
2168 Monkey Grass
2220 Curry

The Gentle Art:
0115 Tiger Lily
0320 Old Brick
0560 Nutmeg
7061 Caramel Corn

Keep in mind that this is a small design. The flosses in italics you will need a couple of strands. The flosses in regular type you may not even need a full strand for, so feel free to rummage in your stash to find something comparable, rather than buying all new. But by all means, use this as an excuse to increase your holdings if you would like. (wink)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Choosing Threads

When I have a design idea in my head, I pick colors in my software that represent what I want the finished piece to look like so I can play with color and balance. But the colors in my software almost always misrepresent the actual threads.

So the next step I take is to dig through my pile of linen and threads and play until I find the shades I am looking for, and that also look their best with the background fabric.

Sometimes I will find a color that is perfection in my hand, then lay it on the linen and *ack*, it suddenly looks completely wrong.

Let Us Be Truly Thankful, the March Edition has been put on top of my Works In Progress pile...

Yes, that linen is green! I have never stitched on colored linen, but I just couldn't resist this time around. Get your supplies ready- once started, these little samplers only take a few days to stitch up. I plan to release this one soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Third Birthdays are Awesome... But First, a Sidenote...

Coming out of Holiday-mode has been very challenging for me this year. With major stuff happening on both sides of the family and a pretty big project going on here as well, my head had been preoccupied to the point of distraction. I haven't been taking many pictures, and the creative ideas that are usually my constant companion seem to have taken a vacation. Its a very good thing I am a planner, because I can simply place one foot in front of the other, finishing designs that were birthed in previous months, floating along in auto-pilot. At some point though, I am going to have to pull myself together, clear my head, and find my muse again.

It doesn't help that our modem is on the fritz, causing my internet connection to be pretty unreliable, and tamping any inspiration I get to share with you here. I think that I will continue to lag behind for at least awhile longer. If you were sitting here with me watching how insanely long it has taken to upload the following pictures, you would understand. I feel like I am back in dial-up mode. (Rejoice with me in the knowledge that my heroic husband managed to get our satellite provider to put a free replacement in the mail; here's hoping it arrives quickly).

Fortunately for her (and us), our 3-year-old doesn't seem to be bothered by the fact that her brother got a big family birthday party and she didn't, and that it took her Mama a week and a half to post the pictures. This is why Third Birthdays are Awesome both for her and for us.

She was completely thrilled with her "Birfday Sign!"

Delighted by her mid-day "HA Cho-kit"

Gobbled down her requested "macawoni cheese and bwacowi"

Very studiously enjoyed opening her "Pwesents"

A magnetic "paper" doll! a pizza toy! a new charm for her sterling bracelet! panties! Candy Land!

And finally, the crowning moment... her "Cho-kit Ice Keem Cake wif Spinkels" (Oh, I was so happy to not have to frost and decorate!)

If you don't hear from me again for the next 5-7 days while I wait for my new modem, don't be too concerned. It will only be because I have given up being frustrated with my turtle connection and have found something better to do with my time.

The end.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Free Chart to Stitch for Your Valentine

Click on the image above to be directed to a free downloadable pdf chart of this perfectly Valentine-ish bookmark. My present to you.

I truly do keep all of you in my heart. I am ever and always grateful for the chance to design to my heart's content. The fact that you enjoy my creations gives me the excuse I need to play without guilt!

If you, like me, have never made a cross-stitched bookmark, check this tutorial out to get an idea how it can be done.

The charted colors are just a suggestion, how I visualize it myself. But as always, please feel free to interpret the design as you wish.

So, off you go... download the chart, spread the word to your stitching friends, challenge each other to be creative, send me photos of your completed work, and start checking the Heartstring Samplery Finish Blog to see how many different ways it is translated!

As always, I would be very grateful if you gave credit to me if you post photos or links anywhere online, or offer your finished goods up for sale.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I am the second of five children.

My Mama had to wait a long time for grandchildren, since my sister and I, the oldest two, waited until we were into our 30's to have babies.

But now, she is in Grandmother Heaven, because she now has been given 7 in the span of 5 years.

With 1 living overseas, there were 5 present at Christmas time. Here they are in all of their cuteness...

And now, introducing the newest member of the gang (my baby brother's)...

We make adorable babies, don't we?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ta Da! Two New Designs!

Let Us Be Truly Thankful, the Valentine Edition

It is a little hard to see in the photo, but there are heart-shaped puffs of smoke rising from the chimney, and a white bird perched on the flower bud.

Stitch Count: 101 x 61
Model stitched on R & R Reproductions 35ct. Espresso linen

Using flosses from The Gentle Art: 0320 Old Brick, 7019 Pomegranate, 7080 Endive, 7084 Espresso Bean

And Weeks Dye Works: 1094 Linen

In addition to being available in my etsy shop as a mailed pattern, I have decided to keep this series available in PDF format indefinitely, for a lower price of $7 each... simply email your request, and I will respond with the emailed file(s) within 24 hours of payment (in most cases you will receive it in less than an hour, since I check my email almost constantly when I'm home).

I Get Lost in Your Eyes, a Sewing Pouch

Can you tell what song I had stuck in my head the day this design was born? Combining words from a 1980’s refrain with a design inspired by a grain sack born a century before, somehow works perfectly in my mind. The blending of previous generations’ art is an idea that I am increasingly fascinated with. I am a child of the 1970’s with a nostalgia for all of the pop culture from my lifetime, but I am also inexplicably drawn to the art forms from centuries past.

This little sewing pouch is meant to be both useful and decorative. A sweet design to commemorate the emotions of love.

Stitch Count: 117 x 98
Model stitched on Weeks Dye Works 40ct. Confederate Gray

Using the following flosses:
The Gentle Art 7067 Garden Gate
Weeks Dye Works 3900 Kohl

Additional materials needed: cotton fabrics for lining and scissor pocket, felted wool scraps for closure and needle keeps, button for closure, clasping key ring for thread keeps, and shell rings (found in the bead section of your local craft supply store) for thread keeps.

Both patterns are available for purchase in my etsy shop for $10 (shipping is free to the USA), but you can also order them directly through me via email ( or you can wait until your local needlework shop has them in stock (if they don't carry my designs, ask!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I See Faces

Please tell me that I'm not the only one.

There I'll be, going about my usual daily activities, when suddenly, some collection of items will be looking right back at me.

The faces are usually friendly, but this one... not so much.


Click on the label below "finding smiles" to see what I mean.

Monday, January 10, 2011

And then She was Three

Three years... my they have gone fast. Well, at least the last two have gone fast. That first year, with a very demanding baby and a 2 year old to care for, time felt like it was going in slow motion.

Around this time, three years ago, I was about an hour away from holding her for the first time, that tiny baby girl that has changed my life. So little and fragile, she one-upped her big brother and had to be hospitalized at one week old for intensive light therapy to help her overcome a severe case of jaundice.

I didn't think that I wanted a girl. I was never much of one for dolls, even when I was small myself. And the thought of raising a daughter was way more intimidating to me than raising a son.

Then, BAM! There she was, with all of her feisty-ness and honey-coated, melt-in-your-heart sweetness.

And I have only loved her more fiercely as the days have passed.

She is... have I already said it? FEISTY. Opinionated. Determined.

And somehow, she is also Sweetness and Charm.

She loves to spend every waking minute with her brother... playing, cuddling, laughing, romping.

She likes talking on the phone, being outside, and has a hugely creative imagination. Her ability to improvise continues to surprise us, and keeps us laughing (and on our toes!).

During announcements at church yesterday morning, our pastor, when wrapping up, said, "just wanted to put a bug in your ear". I, wrongly thinking that the Little Miss wasn't paying attention, got as big a laugh as anyone within earshot, when she broke her silence by exclaiming (quite loudly), "A BUG IN YOUR EAR???"

She is intuitive, and shows all the early signs of a fashionista and artist in the making.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will not be surprised to hear that I absolutely adore this little girl of mine.

She would delight my heart even if she wasn't mine.

Happy Birthday to my Baby (you know I will always call you that, even if I have to whisper it under my breath to avoid embarrassing you).

Friday, January 07, 2011

My Sweet Pea

My little Miss is almost 3. For some reason, I am struggling with this birthday more than any other... I want her to stay 2 for much, much longer!

I am putting off her birthday celebration until next weekend for numerous reasons, but mostly because I am simply NOT READY.

Not ready for the baby talk to end, not ready for the little bits of chub to melt away, not ready for her to stop needing me to hold, cuddle, carry. Although I am really ready for the diaper changes to end, I am hanging onto TWO with a desperate grip.

Feeling sentimental (and a little guilty for putting it off so long), I finally cut her silhouette yesterday, and hung it on my wall next to her brother. At least I will be able to hang onto her charming ways through my photography, writing, and now a little bit of art.

She wants "macawoni cheese" for her dinner, and a "chocate ice keem cake" for her dessert. And pretty panties with "grocies" on them for her present (yes, groceries... think I'll find those easily? I'm thinking perhaps I'll find some with fruit. I hope.)

She's my baby, and she is growing up fast.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What I Got for Christmas

Old pin cushion and old-style scissors...

I can't stop admiring the pin cushion... its pretty fragile, and certainly has been used, but that just makes it better, don't you think?

My baby brother and his wife found this cute little retro sewing box for me...

Made from wood and leather to look like a book... this will be my current-project box to help me keep my jumble of threads organized.

And I now have an additional 2 letter Ts to add to my collection. The little red vintage game tile,

and a tie clip, which is darn cute when I wear it with a v-neck sweater or cardigan.

There are some other things too... wool boot socks to wear with my forty dollar boots, a retro-inspired apron that matches my kitchen, and this book, which I'll possibly review here at a later date.

But you all know that I usually save my gift from the Mister for last right? And this Christmas was no exception. You'll recall that he gave me the gift of laundry for my Birthday this year.

For Christmas, he gave me the Gift of Organization.

A Gift that I have been craving for a very, very long time.

You see, when my sweet baby girl was born, I had to give up the rights to the remaining free room in the house. And to make it even worse, I had nowhere at all to store my supplies, which means the poor girl has had to sleep with my piles of stash teetering around the perimeters of her room for nearly 3 years.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember this birthday present, made by my talented husband. For Christmas, I got its twin.

These are the "After the Before, but Before the After" pictures...

Ugh. Yeah... literally piles. Ugly metal garage sale bookshelf from college, baskets, boxes, plastic drawer-totes, and piles. Very un-inspiring, if you ask me.

Well, after a full day and a half of PLAYING, these are the much-more-inspiring vignettes you will find in our shared girl-room...

I'm not sure yet if I'm proud or embarrassed, but here is my entire fabric stash:

The best part about my Gift of Organization? It didn't cost one cent. The shelf was made using materials already on-hand, and all of my boxes and baskets and bins were a perfect fit for the shelving. All I "had" to do was cover a few ugly thrifted hat boxes with fabric and paper from my stash. And that is what I call good, cheap, fun!