December 31, 2010

Taj Mahal Garden - Top Taj Done

My last WIP update of the year! I got the Taj Mahal at the top of the design finished and took a picture of the entire stitched piece so far.


It'll go into hibernation for the next 6 weeks as I'll be stitching on Maria William's Fire.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

December 30, 2010

2011 Stitching List

I think I shall keep my stitching to-do list very simple for 2011 since I'm planning a few big projects and such a one-at-a-timer. True to form, I'll probably end up planning for lots of things in the new year and add in small projects here and there, so this is going to be a very loose list.

1. Finish Taj Mahal Mandala.
2. Start Fire by Maria J. William (Stab and Stash) - this will be an ongoing SAL with EK and Novia.
3. Start Panthera Leo by Steven Paul Carlson (HAED) when Taj is finished.
4. Finish Namaste.
5. A big Mira - Petal Fairy is probably the forerunner
6. A small Mira - "M" for my neighbor
7. A Dimensions Daydreams or something along those lines.

Of course, I'm not accounting for those crazy times when I go hog wild about some SAL I have to join or a new Chatelaine or Mira that needs to be stitched right away. ;)

December 29, 2010

Surprises

We met our upstairs neighbors about 6 months ago when they moved into the building and have gotten to know them quite well over the months. They are some of the nicest people we know, and I don't say that lightly.

You know how, as you get older, it gets harder to make friends with people you meet. Oh, it's easy enough staying as acquaintances, you know, the "hi, how are you, bye" kind but I mean true friends. The ones you know you can call on at any time for anything. I've had numerous conversations about this topic with my friends and while we can't quite put a finger on why it is, we all agree that that is the case.

So I count ourselves extremely blessed to have met our neighbors and doubly blessed that we get along so well and genuinely like each other.

For Christmas, to our utter surprise and shock, they bought us a Best Buy GC AND an iPod Touch!! To say I was stunned is an understatement as we weren't exchanging gifts or anything. Here's our new toy:


I'm not sure if many of you know, but we live in South Florida. It's beautiful here most of the year except in the summer time where it just gets altogether too hot!! On the way to work one day about a week ago, with the temperatures plummeting to the high 20s and low 30s at night on a couple of occasions, I was ecstatic to see what I call "our own little slice of Fall colors" on the side of ONE road. I know, I know... it's nothing to write home about, but fall colors was something I always looked forward to when we lived in the Midwest and seeing this on the way to work everyday is such a treat for me.

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!



Growing up, my memories of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Christ. We went to church and afterwards, just hung out at home. As I got older, I'd buy little gifts for my parents (I don't think my brother got any LOL!!!) while still focusing on the meaning of Christmas.

I've kept that close to my heart through my adult life and on every Christmas Day I wake up and say "Happy Birthday Jesus!" For me, it is a time to reflect on the true meaning of of the season and to enjoy time with family and friends. I love listening to Christmas Carols and just be appreciative of the Gift that was given to us.

What does Christmas mean to you? What are you favorite memories? And how do you celebrate it?

December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays


Wishing you a very happy holiday season,
from my home to yours.
May you be surrounded by all the
peace, love, and joy the season brings.

December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

There was a lunar eclipse early this morning which started at around 1:15am EST and lasted for about 50 minutes. Hubby, FIL, and I sat out in the courtyard for this marvel. We were blessed with a nice cool night and clear skies. The moon was right above us, and it was such a wonder to behold as we watched it change from the bright full moon into what resembled a basketball in the sky!!

I wanted a self-documentation of the event and took some pictures with our little Canon camera, which aren't great, to say the least, but it tells the story.

1:32am

1:43am

2:01am

2:14am

2:29am

2:35am

2:39am

2:41am
For some really great pictures by the professionals, check out THIS LINK.

December 20, 2010

Taj Mahal Garden - Top Border Done

You know that Chatelaine WIP Slayer SAL I joined awhile ago with the intention of finishing Taj Mahal Garden by the end of Jan. 31, 2011? Well... I think it's safe to say that's not going to happen, LOL! Stitching has been going slow lately, and the light bulb breakage did not help.

I'm happy to report that a new light bulb has arrived and is safely ensconced in my OttLite and I've managed to finish the top 1/3 outside border of Taj. The picture just does not do the real piece justice. The colors are so vibrant and alive IRL and it constantly amazes me how reminiscent the colors are of India.


I couldn't resist taking a picture of the corner ornament. It reminds me of Celia's (from Monster's Inc.) hair!! Do you guys think so too? LOL!

December 17, 2010

New Year, New Start + Contest

Anyone who knows me know that I'm a sucker for SALs (stitch-a-longs) but, more often than not, despite all my plans for them, I stick pretty closely to being a one-at-a-timer. However, I made an exception to rotate next year for two of my dearest friends, EK and Novia... sisters of my heart.

You see, we have been planning a SAL of Maria William's 5 Elements for a long time. Maria licensed these for charting a few years ago and we purchased them as soon as they were available (EK was going to stitch Metal, Novi... Wood, and me... Fire) but we've kept them patiently waiting. Sometime in October, I promised them a NewYear start on these charts. We're all 3 so busy with our lives that we decided not to commit to any solid SAL timeline other than working on these charts at least once a month. It's our way of doing something "together" despite all that goes on in our lives.

Then... Melinda messaged me about a New Year, New Start Contest she started over at the Enchanted Fabrics BB. The start date is very obviously January 1st *giggle* and the end date for goals met will be February 15th. I'm super excited about this as I'm a serious sucker for WIPs and I can't wait to see what beautiful pieces the ladies will stitch up. I know lots of you have plans for New Starts to welcome in the new year.... so why not head over and join in?? As Melinda said "the more the merrier." :D

BTW, my goal will be to finish 6 pages of this beauty by Feb. 15th. *gulp*

December 15, 2010

TUSAL

What is it, you might ask. Well, it stands for "Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long" and Daffycat has revived it again for next year! :D

This year, I got my jar pretty full when Karen brought it to our attention, and even posted some pictures of it. I have to say, it's interesting watching the scraps of colors grow and seeing how the layers change depending on the colors that are used for each different project.

For next year, I've decided to officially join in and to add to the fun of it all, there's even going to be a giveaway at the end of the year! *giggle* Now, to find a jar......

ETA: 2011 New Moon Dates:
January 4
February 3
March 4
April 3
May 3
June 1
July 1
July 30
August 29
September 27
October 26
November 25
December 24

December 14, 2010

Taking Stock....

With the close of 2010 comes the close of the decade. I can't believe how quickly time has flown by. I remember counting down the seconds to a new millennium and in the blink of an eye, ten years have gone by! I'm proud of all the things we've accomplished, both individually and as a couple, and I hope the next decade brings us the same and more.

On the stitching front, I think more than half of my finished pieces were done in this decade. There were pockets of months where I did absolutely no stitching, for whatever was the reason-of-the-moment and then pockets of months where I'd go stitch crazy and do nothing but stitch.

I've never made a solid stitching list, as I am prone to change my mind and make lots of stitching plans,  but I did one this year. As as we all can see, it didn't work out very well. LOL!

1. Start Japanese Garden and finish at least 1/2 achieved June, 2010
New Goal: Finish Japanese Garden - This is going so well and gathering so much steam that I can't fathom putting it down. The aim is to have this done by the end of August. finished Aug. 1st, 2010

2. Finish Circle of Friends finished Jan. 7th, 2010

3. Hedgehog Baby by EMS finished Feb. 27th, 2010

4. Sampler (a Wiehenburg or Garden Stars) Sweetheart Tree's Weeping Violet for Uncle Ed and Aunty Sandy - If I actually get my act together, this is a super quick finish. 1/4 of it is done since it's an orphan from a friend who started it.
"Act together" did NOT occur. ;)

5. Namaste for in-laws (let's try it again this year. LOL!) - I don't think this will make it, but I'll leave it on here for now. It's a quick stitch, but I just don't feel it, know what I mean?
I actually started this!! So that's major points. The word Namaste is finished and I've started the surrounding scroll work.

6. Tate's Kimono Mermaid or Castles in the Air Chinese Zodiacs Pig and Tiger for P and Baby P - Both of them are definitely not doable, but I think it'd be nice to aim for starting one.
Well, a new start in the new decade is always a good thing.

7. Something Mira's Winter Queen or Sabrina - I'll have to see how this goes. The dreamer in me is foreseeing starting and finishing Sabrina this year. HAH!
OK, it's settled, I'll be starting this towards the end of August. No promises on the finishing.
Sabrina was actually started and finished in about 6 weeks!!!!!!

8. Finish Regal Tiger
HAHAHAHAHA!!! I should've said, "put some stitches in Regal Tiger!"

9. Dolphin's Domain - This will have to be moved to next year.

10. Chatelaine's Mini Mandala 06... a new addition. The plan is to start this as soon as I receive the stuff from Europeanxs.com and have it done by the end of August. finished Aug. 31st, 2010

What about you guys? How did you do with your stitching plans this year?

Busted Light Bulb

I'm out a stitching light... siiiiiiigh.

Our thermostat broke 2 nights ago and we found out that it had to be replaced with a special thermostat for only HVAC systems. So the guy came yesterday and we moved my OttLite to the foyer so that he'd have a more focused light to work with.

Well... the light bulb must have gotten loose or something because when we moved it back, it fell out and shattered!!!! So now, I have to find a replacement and I hope I can, as the light I have is out of production. :(

December 9, 2010

Master Bath Facelift

We were fortunate enough to buy our place new, from the builder, a couple of years ago. We love the layout and design of our place, with the exception of the cabinet door colors, especially in our master bath.

I wanted a peaceful zen feel in the master bath, so we decorated in a Japanese style (which is weird, since neither one of us is Japanese).  Also, I have stitched so many japanese pieces that this seems like a great room to hang them in.

The water closet is separate and has it's own door from the main bath, and in here we hung up a few pictures that hubby took of the Morikami Museum.



The main bathroom had light color cabinets and framed shower doors, which we hated. First, the oak-ish color just did not go with a Japanese theme and second, cleaning that shower is not the easiest thing, since water tend to get into the grooves, nooks, and crannies. And then, there was the problem of the empty wall which is the first thing you see when you walk in. Nothing seemed to fit there.

BEFORE:


We did the easiest thing first and added a trim around the mirror. Then we painted the cabinets a nice deep espresso brown.



A few months later, we got a frameless shower door installed and the difference is night and day! The room feels so open now and cleaning it is a breeze.



Then, the big elephant of a wall. Hubby had wanted to build screens to fit the entire wall for a long, long time and I kept telling him that it's not a good idea and that it'd take too much work. (Duh me!!!!) Finally, we decided that it was worth a try and thus started the 4 weekend process:

Painter's tape on the wall to outline the design. Hubby did some research and found a historical Japanese screen pattern.


Materials: 3 pieces of wood backing board and 3 sizes of wood.


In progress:
The picture on the left shows how each section of the screen has to be painstakingly measured before the pieces are glued in. The picture on the right shows the staples that he initially used that didn't work well. He figured out countersinking screws was the best way to go.

Measuring for the perfect fit.

2 down, 1 to go.

All done!!!!

AFTER:

December 6, 2010

Taj Mahal Garden - Left and Right Flower Borders

I'm 1/3 done with Taj!! :D Or I have 2/3 of Taj to go... depending on how you see it. Being the consummate optimist that I am, I choose to think that I'm 1/3 of the way there. ;)

The left and right flower borders are done, as are the outer borders of the paisley ornaments. I'm resisting adding all the bling in till the end, but there have been many a times where I was very tempted to add a few in... just to see. ;)


Right flower border
Left flower border

I've scrolled the fabric down and will be working on the upper portion next, and I find myself back to staring forlornly at a section of bare and empty fabric, wondering how long it's going to take to fill it up.

November 27, 2010

Christmas Decorations

Instead of heading out shopping on Black Friday, we put up Christmas decorations. This is something I look forward to for quite a few weeks before-hand. We don't do too much apart from putting the trees up. We used to have just an inside tree, but a couple of years ago, I bought a smaller one from Target's clearance for $2. It was 90% off and who could resist??! So, since then we also have an outside tree. :D

This year, there was the extra excitement of a few new ornaments and garlands from Michaels... purchased at 40% off their regular price plus an extra 20% off on top of that!! It seems like more and more ornaments get added to our tree every year, and it's nice to revisit old ornaments and reminisce.

Inside tree. We started the tradition of a yearly ornament and this year's ornament is a skiing moose that's hand-made in Germany.

Outside tree. The decorations are really simple on this one.
Just a string of lights and some red flowers.

Front gate and side rails all decked out in poinsettia garlands.

Front door. The wreath on the door is self-made and at least 10 years old.

The little drummer boy was handcrafted in Germany.

Nativity Scene.

When do you guys put up your Christmas decorations? Do you go all out or keep with tradition? I would LOVE to see some pictures of your decorations. :D

November 26, 2010

Taj Mahal Garden - East & West Taj's Done

I'm very happy to report that Thanksgiving has been kind to me time-wise so far. Of course, it probably helped that we didn't hit any sales for Black Friday. *giggle*

Soooooo, all the stitching for both the East and West Taj's are done. I have never stitched so many algerian eyelets in differing shades in my life!!!! And since they have to be pulled taut, my poor little fingers were not too happy at all, but they got over it as soon as they saw how gorgeous the eyelets are!

The floss color for the backstitching around the sheaf stitches that took me awhile to figure out as it wasn't in the instructions. After lots of reading and sifting through previously asked questions, I finally found Martina's reply that this is to be stitched with PB02. (For my friends who will be stitching this later, do take a note of this.)


There are quite a few variety of specialty stitches in these little sections: the algerian eyelets (as previously mentioned), blackwork for the honeycomb shapes, rhodes stitches, rice stitches (these are found right under the roofs), sheaf stitches, and Jessica stitches combine together for a spectacular effect!! Martina is an amazing designer!!


November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

I am thankful for so many things... but most of all, a wonderful husband, a loving family, and great friends–both online and off. I am blessed to have you in my life.

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Thanksgiving.
May you be surrounded with everyone and everything you love.

November 24, 2010

Stitching Stand

Isa was asking me about my stitching stand in a previous post, and Isa... as promised I took a picture of it.


I guess it's a lap stand, even though it doesn't technically sit on my lap. LOL! It's a really inexpensive brand that I picked up from Joann's at least 12-13 years ago, and it has served me well. I've bought extra scroll rod sets through the years, for the seldom occasions when I rotate, but the stand itself hasn't failed me yet.

Every now and then I toy with the idea of getting a more expensive one, but can't see paying upwards of $100 for them and abandoning my trusty companion.

What about you guys? Do you use stitching stands and if so, what kind? Or do you stitch in hand?

November 22, 2010

Taj Mahal Mandala - Taj's

Well, it's been a rough couple of weeks on the stitching front. I don't know where the time has gone, but I'm not getting as much done as I'd like. Of course, there was that little mishap where I doubled the ply of the half crosses behind the Taj's. ;) That's all sorted out and the frogging wasn't too bad, I have to say, thank goodness!

The in-laws are due in any day for the next couple of months as well, and I think there will be less time. I'll try to stitch as much as I can though, cos Taj was getting to the point where I was picking up speed.

Here are a couple of pics of my progress as of last week. The East-West Taj's are halfway done. All the stitches are in and I'm working on the specialties... there are a LOT of algerians in this one. LOL!!!


November 19, 2010

Let's Play!!

Andie was bored a few days ago and came up with some great stitching questions. So I'm going to steal them from her *giggle* and invite you gals to play along.

1. What are you stitching at the moment?

Chatelaine's Taj Mahal

2. How many finishes have you had this year? Small? Medium? Large? Extra Large?
Hmm... 7 to date. How do we categorize the sizes? LOL!!! 3 smalls (Hedgehog Baby, MM06, Vis-a-vis), 3 mediums (Circle of Friends, Nursery Prayer, Sabrina), 1 large (Japanese Garden Mandala).

3. Do you think you will finish any more in the next month and a half before the end of the year?
Nope. I'm currently working on Taj Mahal Garden and there ain't no way that's going to be finished.

4. If you could buy 1 thing for yourself what would it be? (Doesn't have to be stitching)
Wow... hmm..... I'm going to presume it's all paid for and can be as big or as small an item. So... a nice house in Australia.

5. What is the best thing you have ever stitched?
The one I love most is Wentzler's Peacock Tapestry, even though that was a PitA piece. The one that I felt the best stitching was MBT's Ps. 23.

6. Do you like making lists?
Yes!!! Doesn't mean I stick to them. ;)

7. Do you stitch in rotation (how does it work?) or OAAT?

OOATer. I can't rotate... it drives me mad.

8. What is the next thing you plan to stitch?
Mirabilia's Petal Fairy

9. What is your fave ONS? And why?
123stitch because they are sooooooo friendly and helpful and efficient.

10. Do you have a stitching chair?
No. I stitch on the couch or the love seat in the living room.

11. Do your children/pets get into your stitching things?
No kids, no pets. LOL!!

12. Do you participate in any stitching forums?
Yes. The Crafty Coven, MirabiliaStitchers, and Chatelaine mostly. I'm also in some Yahoo groups.

November 17, 2010

Lion Country Safari

It's been awhile since hubby and I took some time off. We take the occasional day off work here and there for appointments and errands, but this past weekend was ours to do something instead of just sitting at home. Since his birthday was on the 16th, we decided to make a 4-day weekend out of it, starting with Kooza.

We've been talking about going to Lion Country Safari for a long while, but we're good with putting things like that off. There's always an excuse: "when the weather is better," "when we have more time," "one of these days"....

Well, Monday was THE DAY!!! We got up bright at early, at 8am, and were out the door by 9:30. It was a perfect day in South Florida–clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, nice warm sun couple with soothing breezes.



The park itself was awesome!!!! We got so up close and personal with the animals there that it closely rivaled our safari trips in Africa. My two favorite animals are the lion and giraffe. Unfortunately, they have the lions behind enclosures, so we didn't take any pictures of them. However, I got to feed the a giraffe... OMG!!! I was so happy! :D and another one came really close to us when we were on the drive through safari. Words seem so inadequate to describe the beauty of these animals so I will just post a few pictures here and say that it was "a great time for our souls."

I wish I could see this waterfall every day!!










For more pictures and videos: LION COUNTRY SAFARI ALBUM.