Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Chronicles of Prydain

I finished the Chronicles of Prydain.  It's a nice children's fantasy set (well, children's in the sense of like for ages 10 and up).

The series consists of five books:
  1. The Book of Three
  2. The Black Cauldron
  3. The Castle of Llyr
  4. Taran Wanderer
  5. The High King
I also have the supplemental book The Foundling and other Tails of Prydain which has eight short stories about the characters in the book and can be read after the main series.

Disney did make a movie version The Black Cauldron which is a movie version of the first two books but it is nothing like the book so if you didn't like the movie version, don't let it deter you from reading the books.  As with most movie adaptations, the book is better than the movie.

The Book of Three (3 stars) - We start in Caer Dallben, a small farming town, home of the enchanter Dallben, a farmer named Coll and the Assistant Pig Keeper, Taran.  The pig that Taran tends is an oracular pig named Hen Wen who suddenly runs away in fear and Taran chases after her.  He meets Gwydion and the two of them are captured by the evil Queen Achren and imprisoned.  Taran is freed by the Princess Elionwy, who is living at the castle.  She also frees Fflewdurr Fflam, a bard and minor king who she thought was Gwydion.  They travel away from the castle and are joined by a very annoying man/beast named Gurgi. 

It gets three stars because Gurgi and Elionwy are rather annoying.  However, they get less annoying as the books go along.

The Black Cauldron (3 stars) - Taran and his companions have returned to Caer Dallben after the events of the last book. However, Gwydion and several others visit for a meeting about The Black Cauldron. Arawn has been using this to create his army of Cauldron-born soldiers, soldiers made from the dead. Taran sets out with Adaon and Ellidyr. Ellidyr is very spiteful to Taran and has a and run-in with him in the first chapter. Gurgi and Eilonwy set off from Caer Dallben and catch up to Taran's party, despite orders to stay behind. Their plan ultimately fails because the Cauldron is no longer in Arawn's hands. They learn that it is a marsh that is home to three witches so they travel there to seek the Cauldron.

The plot of this is tight and keeps your attention the whole way through. Eilonwy and Gurgi are much less annoying than in the first book.

The Castle of Llyr  (4 stars) - After the events of the last book, Dallben decides it is time to send Elionwy to be raised properly as someone of her royal standing should be. Taran and Gurgi travel with her to the island of Mora. Taran discovers Gwydion, disguised as a shoemaker, who warns him that he and Elionwy are in great danger. The next morning, Elionwy disappears, captured by the head servant Magg. Taran, Gurgi and Fflewddur Fflam set off after her accompanied by Prince Rhun, who is clumsy and pretends to know more than he actually knows.

For some reason, I like this book better than the first two. Not to say that the first two books aren't great books, but the setting and feel of this book is different. I also like the encounters with Glew and Llyan.

Taran Wanderer (4 stars) - This book is a bit of an interlude. I remember when I first read this book in college, one of my friends told me that this was her favorite of the series. I like it as well.

This book is a quest to find oneself. Taran does not know who his parents are and sets off to seek that knowledge. He travels all over Prydain from the Marshes to the realm of King Smoit to the clutches of an evil sorcerer to a sheep herder's cottage until in learning trades, he finds himself.

The High King (4 stars) - This book is the conclusion to the Chronicles of Prydain series and like most high fantasy, ends with an epic battle.

The main characters of the first four books set off to rise up against the dark king Arawn. They are met with setbacks and betrayals almost immediately and several likeable characters die along the way. I don't want to say too much because that would just spoil the whole book.

There's a reason why this book won the Newbery. The first four books definitely set this up and this book is almost non stop action and is rather difficult to put down.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A bit of HAED

So, after 300 stitches, I still haven't covered a square inch.  That's kinda impressive.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

And finished


I know I didn't post a picture of Dumbo yesterday, so I'm going to today.  He's almost finished.  Just a bit of backstitching left.

I'm on Book 4 of the Chronicles of Prydain!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Grid Experiment 1

Since the HAED is such a large complex project, I decided to grid it like I'd seen several other people do.  I've never done a grid before, so I googled it and found several different ways to do it.  I figure I will try out several different types before I settle on something I like. 

For page one of the HAED, I'm using a 4 up-2 down-4 up approach.  I used normal sewing thread in bright orange.  I want to test how easy it is to pull the threads out as I stitch etc....  I also saw people using 2 up-2 down and 10 up-10 down in the examples I found.  I'll try one of those when I get to page 2. 

There is my one little pathetic stitched square
I haven't worked on it lately since I have a nasty cold and haven't been sleeping and I don't think I could handle the tininess of it right now.  I am getting further on Dumbo though (sorry, no pic).  I was planning to stitch more today but my hands and wrists ache.  Probably something to do with fatigue and the cold or a flare up of my carpal. 

In other news, I decided to reread The Chronicles of Prydain.  I'll post my reviews when I've finished the set.  On "The Black Cauldron" right now.

Listening to some "Live and Let Die" soundtrack on LP

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Special Day

Four years ago on our wedding day.  Wish I looked like that now...
Today was a busy. day.  Adèle had to go to the doctor for her two year old checkup.  She did not like it one bit!  She had to have her finger pricked for iron/lead testing and she did not like the doctor looking in her ears.  Fortunately, no shots

Today is also my husband's birthday and our 4th wedding anniversary.  We went out to Texas Roadhouse for dinner and he got me these:

I love the Pigeon books and the dragon is from "Doc McStuffins," a cute series on Disney Junior.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cheap stash in unexpected places

So, I had to go to Denton today because Zoé woke up at 3:30 am screaming and throwing up all over me.  Off to the doctor it was.  The verdict: a double ear infection and a fever of 101. 

On the way home, we stopped to get her prescription.  I wanted to go by Dollar General to pick her up a little something to lift her spirits.  And that's where I saw it:

Cool, I said.  It's $5 and 50% of that is $2.50.  Totally worth it.  Got to the register.  Guess what price rang up?  10 cents.  Now that's what I call a bargain. :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

And now I understand why HAEDs take so long...

I decided to start my HAED yesterday.  I got about 98 stitches stitched (the missing 2 were a different color.  This piece is 400x500 stitches.  I did the math and if I stitch one 10x10 block per day, it would take me about 5 and a half years to finish.  I'm stitching one over one on 25 ct with one strand of floss.  A bit small but my eyesight is still excellent so it didn't give me too much trouble.

Thanks to Mel again for the Lugana

In non stitchy news, we bought a set of twin beds for the daughters.  They' weren't terribly expensive and the Hello Kitty bedding for Adele was a birthday present from Grandma. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

When Minecraft gets you down.... some cross stitch!

I actually have been working on my own webstore since about Christmas and now that I have two products, I've decided to go public.  Check it out

Click here to see my new webstore!

Blog Hop 16

Well, we had fun with Adèle's birthday.  Her favorite present was the book from Grandma.  She's still looking at it 30 minutes later.  She didn't even want to open any other gifts after she found that.

Now, on to the blog hop.  Today's prompt is:

How many needles have you lost? Feel free to estimate. Tell us your best “lost needle” story ;)

You know, I'm not sure that I've really lost any needles.  I have to be very very very careful with a 2 and 3 year old.  I do occasionally drop them, but I have to scour the floor looking for it because if I don't find it, the girls will and I don't want them to get hurt.  I have had a couple of scares where I couldn't find the needle right away and a couple of times where Zoé found it first. 

Happy Valentine's Day

Sorry for the delay in posting.  I got a new computer because of my upcoming grad school classes and Office 2003 isn't compatible with Windows 8.  I had been using Office Picture Manager to compress my pictures for the blog so I had to find an alternative.  I'd rather not fill up my Picasa if I can help it.  We'll see how this new software works.

So far I'm loving Windows 8.  I've had Windows Phone 7 for a year and a half so the tiles are nothing new.  The computer is a small Asus laptop with touch screen (because really, to truly enjoy 8, you need a touch screen).  It should be great for going to class.  That was one of the big buys with tax money.  We're now looking to replace our vehicle as it won't pass inspection and my husband needs a truck if he gets hired like we're hoping he will be.  And if there's any money left over, the girls need twin beds. 

Anyway, getting back to Valentine's Day.  We dropped Zoé off at school for her Valentine's Day party and then drove into Denton with Adèle.  My husband let me tootle around SCRAP and I found a few things.

Bread Cloths 50 cents apiece

Some Charles Craft Aida in interesting colors

A heart Mill Hill Kit and a cute little window kit

Some yarn for a scarf I'm hoping to make
 We had lunch at Chicken Express and then picked up some breadsticks at the Flowers Discount Store.  They're the same breadsticks that the Olive Garden uses.  They're going to be the side dish for Adèle's birthday party (we're having spaghetti).

My husband surprised me later with string.  The HAED I won from Mel's giveaway calls for a bunch of DMC floss in the 100s.  I didn't actually have any of that so he bought me all 21 colors of 100 numbered floss and some bobbins.  I normally prefer plastic bobbins but he gets extra points for having pretty bobbins.  I wound the floss last night.  The girls had fun playing with the wrappers.  Adèle was making it "rain" with them.

Speaking of Adèle, it's her birthday today (yes, that means I spent Valentine's Day in labor only to not be awarded with a Valentines baby, sigh).  I baked her triple fudge cake last night.  I am trying a new frosting since my chocolate butter is a little two light for a dark chocolate cake. 

I also got a package in the mail.  Mel had an extra piece of white Lugana that she wasn't using that she sent to me for my HAED.  Thanks Mel!

Haven't stitched a lot.  Here is the small ornament I've been working on.

It's Dumbo!

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Resurrected UFO

Today, in my guest post on Stitching The Night Away, I wrote about a UFO of mine.  You may recall me working on it in late 2010/early 2011.  It's this particular pattern.

I found it while I was cleaning last week and decided to give it another chance.  I finished up the right hand dragon (it had a bit of missing stitches) this week.  My plan is to stitch on it occasionally when I get tired of my little ornaments.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blog Hop #15

Eventually there comes a time when you’re not feeling well, whether it’s the flu or a cold or something else entirely. The question is, do you manage any stitching when you’re under the weather or does it just have to wait for better days?

Well, when I first started stitching, I had chronic sinus infections due to a deviated septum.  I missed a bunch of school because I had major headaches and nausea due to post nasal drip.  I actually found that I could cross stitch despite the discomfort but reading books was out of the question.  In fact, I started cross stitching while recovering from having my wisdom teeth out.

I think about the only thing that slows me down is if I'm wrapped in the covers with a major fever/chills or if I'm tied to the toilet with some kind of gastrointestinal virus.  Otherwise, head colds don't bother me while stitching.


After a bit of reflecting, I do recall a time when I was too sick to stitch.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I had horrible morning sickness.  As in, I had to be drugged to stop the vomiting.  At the time, my ob would only give me phengren which also is used to treat insomnia (in other words, it also knocks you out).  So, I didn't feel like stitching the whole first trimester.

Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night Away Stitching Blogger Blog Hop:
Find the instructions on how to participate in this round by clicking here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Finish

This piece just flew along.  It was a delight to stitch.  I still have to figure out how I'm going to finish this for my Mom's birthday.  I have some ideas, I just have to see what costs are and stuff.  I'm very pleased with how the variegation turned out on the shamrocks.  It looks so much better than the model in that respect.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New Project (and it's not an ornament!)

First, here's a picture of the linen I was talking about earlier

The cream at the bottom is the 32 ct.  I think I'll will do the Dimples Designs birds on it and I'm thinking about doing the HAED I won in December on the linen in the middle because it's large enough.  

While I was at SCRAP, I also found the perfect little kit for 50 cents to make for my mom for her upcoming birthday on St. Patrick's Day.  It's a Redbird Designs from 2004 called Hearts in Clover.  It looks like the store in Lewisville kitted it up.  Sniff sniff.  Miss that LNS...

It's stitched on 10ct Bone Tula.  It's stitched using pearle cotton and Caron Watercolours instead of regular floss.   I'm rather enjoying the Watercolours.  Haven't stitched with anything variegated in awhile.  I stitched the hearts on the clovers one stitch at a time diagonally and I like the effect that it gave me with the variegation.  The second Watercolours color ("Pistachio nut"), is more random.  It will eventually be outlined in gold.  Not sure how I'm going to finish it.  Thinking pillow or box.  I have a month.


I found three pieces of linen at SCRAP yesterday for $1 a piece!  Two are 28 ct and one is 32 ct.  I think one might be big enough to stitch the HAED on.