Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reading Challenge - June

My binge of books continues!  I have now completed 30 years of Newbery books (not entirely in chronological order) and read 185 books off the list total.  This month, I read some non-youth fiction as well.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Lawson - This book will bring up memories of reading the Little House books except this has a twist.  A 16 year old orphan girl tries to prove up her uncle's homestead claim in World War I era Montana.
The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg - Two years after The Glass Magician and Ceony is preparing for her Magician test.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale - An interesting take on the Grimm Fairy Tale.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - It seems to be a popular book right now so I read it.  It's about a woman who watches this couple at their house from the commuter train every day until one day the woman disappears.
Eyes on You by Katie White - A somewhat flat but readable mystery about Robin, a rising TV news star and author who suddenly receives a bunch of threats.
Sins of the Father by Jen Blood - The second Erin Solomon mystery where Erin investigates that her father may have been a serial killer.
Better World by Autumn Kalquist - The new prequel to the Legacy Codes series.
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt - A historical fiction piece based on the eviction of the residents of Malaga Island, Maine in 1911.  Funny at times but very sad at the end.
Abel's Island by William Steig - A novella about a marooned mouse.
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor - A very intense book about racism in the deep South at the turn of the century.
The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman - An interesting nonfiction book about the famous Wright Brothers.
Nothing But the Truth by Avi - An unconventional novel about a boy who is suspended for humming the National Anthem.
Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount Saint Helens by Patricia Lauber - An interesting account of the Mt. St. Helens' eruption with some interesting information about how nature recovered afterwards.
Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer - A novel about a man who runs against a corrupt mayor in Wisconsin.
In the Beginning by Virginia Hamilton - A collection of different creation stories from around the world.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

An Ornament with a Special Purpose

I recently blogged on Stitching the Night Away about using ornaments and smalls in lieu of samplers for special occasions.

I've been wanting to stitch a memorial for a friend for awhile but my self-designed attempts fell flat.  While looking for an ornament for my daughter, I ran across a pattern that seemed perfect for my purposes.

It's called "Peace" by The Stitcherhood out of the JCS Ornaments 2013
I'm making some modifications.  First, I'm omitting the "peace" in the upper left hand corner and replacing it with different text.  I'm going to make it a double-sided ornament so I cam put the name and years of life on the back.  I also added blending filament in the snowflakes and the candle flame.

The interesting thing is, when you pull the floss for this, the colors look nothing like they do on the black Aida.  They are extremely muted but the black makes them brighter.  My kudos to the designer.

I've already started stitching and have completed most of the ornament.  Stitching is fast when there's only four colors!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My latest project

I'm back at the ornament grind.  No final finishing to show yet on the last two completed ones though.  Hopefully next week!

So, I've noticed that almost every ornament pattern calls for a 9x9 piece of fabric.  Really?  The final ornament is generally 3x3  There's no way I need three inches on each side for finishing unless I'm doing something extra special. All that wasted fabric.

With my latest start, I had to use some mathematical skills (which included drawing a blueprint) in order to figure out how to cut and place the ornaments.  But I figured out and I have the main body of the house done.  Just need to cut and stitch the black roof tiles.

The finishing is going to be quite complex.  Welcome to the world of The Victoria Sampler.  Hopefully I don't mess up after all this work.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stitch from Stash A Wrap Up!

This year for Stitch from Stash, Mel decided to split the year up into two sections.  June marks the end of the first section, so I'll do a wrap up of the first half of the year!  I've been stitching a lot since I no longer have homework and I did not get a job for second semester.

I actually had a lot of surplus which I wasn't planning on spending, until I spent it. I liked the option to add money to your budget by finishing things.

Here's the wrap up.

Budget: $150
Total spent: $205.69
Total earned: $92.00

Pieces started:
--Tigger Candy Cane Ornament (Leisure Arts Kit)
--Yellow Submarine (Blackbird Designs)
--Cat Nip Christmas (Mosey 'N Me, JCS Ornaments 2002)
--Lights of Advent (Erica Michael Designs, JCS Ornaments 2006)
--Octopus's Garden (Blackbird Designs)
--Quail Ornament (Cross Stitch Christmas A Heartwarming Christmas)
--Candy Cane Horse (Charlotte's Collectibles, JCS Ornaments 2009)
--Berries Needlebook (365 Tiny Cross Stitch Designs - Kooler Design Studio)
--Biscornu Ornament (Cross Stitch Christmas A Heartwarming Christmas)
--Baptism Ornament (Sola Scriptura Needlework)
--Tweet Gift (Full Circle Designs, JCS Ornaments 2010)
--Peace (The Stitcherhood, JCS Ornaments 2013)
--Shining in the Night (SamSarah, JCS Aug 2015)
--A Merry Little House (The Victoria Sampler - JCS Ornaments 2008)

--Butterfly Rose Cross
--Do Not Meddle (1 page finish)
--Country Grace
--Snow White Discovers the Castle

--Tigger Candy Cane Ornament (Leisure Arts Kit)
--Cat Nip Christmas (Mosey 'N Me, JCS Ornaments 2002)
--Lights of Advent (Erica Michael Designs, JCS Ornaments 2006)
--Yellow Submarine (Blackbird Designs)
--Sunflower Sampler (Cross Stitch and Country Crafts)
--Berries Needlebook (365 Tiny Cross Stitch Designs - Kooler Design Studio)
--Fuji (Dimples Designs)
--Quail Ornament (Cross Stitch Christmas A Heartwarming Christmas)
--Candy Cane Horse (Charlotte's Collectibles, JCS Ornaments 2009)
--Biscornu Ornament (Cross Stitch Christmas A Heartwarming Christmas)
--Baptism Ornament (Sola Scriptura Needlework)
--Tweet Gift (Full Circle Designs, JCS Ornaments 2010)
--Shining in the Night (SamSarah, JCS Aug 2015)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Stitch from Stash Update - June 2015

Month: June
Carryover from May: $124.83
Amount Spent: $133.52
Amount Earned: $20
Final balance: $36.31

I am posting this at 4 in the morning, not because I'm a night owl or anything.  My youngest wet the bed.  Still working out that kink.  Oh, well.

I did not think I would spend that huge balance but I did.  Went on a bit of a shopping spree at Silver Needle and Needle in a Haystack.  Incidentally, everything I bought is for Victoria Sampler pieces.  I've never stitched Thea before so this should be interesting  I just started on A Merry Little House last night.

All my finishes this month were small.  Here they are:

Candy Cane Horse - Charlotte's Collectibles
Double Sided Biscournu Ornament

Baptism Ornament

Tweet Gift - Full Circle Designs
Shining in the Night - SamSarah
See y'all next month for Stitch from Stash B!

Monday, June 22, 2015

An anniversary and some stash

Today was the third anniversary of my lay off.  Although I am still unemployed, I am definitely in a much better position than I was three years ago since my husband has a job, I got my masters and I now have a teacher certificate free of any kind of alternative certification.  God is good.

Still looking for that first job though.

In other news, the rest of my ordered stash showed up today courtesy of Needle in a Haystack in Alameda, CA.  The ladies there were so helpful in helping me find a yellow fabric for my newest project (which after a bunch of mathematical calculations, I finally started but no pictures yet).

I spent a good chunk of the day doing a bit of finishing work.  Bought some more foam board over the weekend so I could finally mount Fuji.  I think I have him straight.  Haven't laced him yet or put the stainless pins in.

And that's all.  Stay tuned this week for my June Stitch from Stash update.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Caught up on Ornaments!!! (Until next Christmas at least)

I rallied and managed to get completely caught up on all the girls' ornaments!

My latest finish is actually hot off the press, out of the August 2015 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Preview!  I started it with my digital edition and then my magazine showed up yesterday.  I ended up using mostly DMC as I only had one of the required WDW colors but I think it looks fine.

Shining in the Night
SamSarah JCS Aug. 2015
My garden has actually produced a lone cherry tomato.  Yes, it is supposed to be yellow.

My husband and I went to a book sale yesterday in Dallas. I made out quite good.  I think the best book was an anthology of William Steig books.  It had barely been used.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A New Finish *Edit*

Currently, I'm working on getting caught up on my Christmas Ornaments.  I had finished Emily's ornaments (up until this year) and now I have Adele caught up.  Hers just needs final finishing but the stitching is done.

Tweet Gift
Full Circle Designs

She seems to approve of the ornament, except she thinks the birds are chickens.  Oh, well.

This piece calls for a lot of overdyed cotton. I only had three colors of it so I used what I had and used DMC for the rest and it turned out fine.  I also had to substitute the Silver HL for the regular Silver Kreinik braid but it doesn't seem to have made a huge difference either.  Hooray for being resourceful.

I realized that I've stitched a Full Circle piece before but it didn't hit me until I started the border.

This ornament I did for Em is also Full Circle Designs
I have just started a brand new piece out of the brand new JCS Ornament Preview!  I don't often work on brand new pieces so it's a bit exciting.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Frustrations and a Shameless Plug

First, a shameless plug.  I occasionally guest blog on Stitching the Night Away and this weekend I wrote a three blog series, the first of which was posted today.

Next, some frustrations.  I have this UFO.  It should never have become a UFO!  It's an ornament!  Ugh!

Anyway, this ornament is three dalmatians wearing antlers which I shrunk to ornament proportions by stitching it on 18 ct. Aida.

This is where I last left it
I see it in my stitching basket and I pick it up to work on and then I remember why I quit working on it in the first place.  It shouldn't be tedious and frustrating but it is!  Maybe it's because the fabric is cut a bit small so it's hard to hold and it won't fit in my Q Snap.  I don't know.  Whatever the case, it was originally intended for Em and then I decided to make it for Zoe and now, I'm considering quitting on it and finding something else!

I put some progress on it but not really.  I just couldn't stand it today!  Again!
I also did a very small bit of work on Octopus's Garden.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Box from Silver Needle

I have quite a surplus of budget left and I still had some graduation money left so I decided to order a pattern I have wanted for awhile.  Victoria Sampler no longer carries the accessory pack for just the single ornament so I had to order the new leaflet and fabric and accessory pack.  The fabric that was originally used is no longer produced so apparently the Victoria Sampler commissioned Picture This Plus to create a replacement.  Oooh.

I have never ordered from The Silver Needle before but I actually have some stuff from them that I've found at SCRAP.  They are a larger brick and mortar LNS based in Tulsa OK.

The box came today.

Everything was nicely wrapped in this colorful paper.  They also threw in some individually wrapped Jelly Bellys.  OOOOOH!

This was my order: leaflet, accessory pack and fabric.  Don't the cupcakes just look  delectable?
They were also nice enough to throw in some free patterns and a pen.

Now, I'm just waiting on another order from Needle in a Haystack in Alameda (which is a much much much further drive than Tulsa), where the people are also very nice and helped me locate a fabric for yet another Victoria Sampler piece.  I've never stitched them before.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Happy Dance! I'm caught up!

Last night, I finished Emily's last ornament so I am officially caught up!  Just one more to go (for this Christmas, so I have time)!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Let's Talk About Autism a bit


We hear it talked about quite a bit these days.  There's quite a bit of Autism awareness going around which is a good thing.  It is an often misunderstood disorder.  No one knows for sure what causes it.  Originally, "refrigerator mothers" were supposed to be the cause.  Soon that was ruled out.  Recently, there was a big debate over whether or not vaccinations caused Autism.  It seems that the researcher responsible for that theory cooked his research a bit so they are probably not the cause either.  The current theory is there is a genetic predisposition which is triggered by something environmental.  So, really, we are back at square one and don't know what causes it at all.

Autism is a "spectrum disorder" which means that it ranges in severity.  There used to be other disorders related to Autism like Asperger's and PDD NOS but the definitions recently changed to bring both of the disorders I mentioned under the Autism umbrella.

So, why am I talking about this?

Two reasons.

Reason #1 and Reason #2
Both my daughters have Autism.

But I love them anyway.

We knew something wasn't right when our oldest daughter wasn't talking by age 2.  In fact, she wasn't responding to anything.  So, we had her tested and went through a hearing test and she qualified for speech therapy.  At age three, she entered preschool at the local school and at the time, she was completely nonverbal.  She had her full evaluation prior to kindergarten this spring and was diagnosed with Autism.  Her speech score was 68 which is still "severely impaired" but still a major improvement from 0.

She loves dresses and has a bit of an obsession with princesses.  Right now we're big into Cinderella (Sih-der-rah-rah)

This is Gilbert.  He is her favorite cat.  He used to be "eeow" and then "cat' and then "kitty cat orange" but now he's named after the cat on Calliou.   She has three identical beanie babies but this one is the only cat for her.
The funny thing about having one child with a developmental delay is that you tend to identify a delay in the second child faster.  Our younger daughter is only 14 months younger but we noticed as she neared 18 months that she had 0 words.  She also had some sensory issues so she was diagnosed with PDD NOS (which stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified which means she had some Autism signs but not all of them, however, PDD NOS has been absorbed into the Autism spectrum so we can pretty much say "she's Autistic").  She received speech therapy and occupational therapy and entered preschool at age 3 as well.

She was so happy and normal but what the camera doesn't see is the oober tantrum we had when it was time to get OFF the tractor.
Even though they are both Autistic, the Autism manifests itself differently in both.  She had definite problems with sleeping, which was extremely inconvenient when you are a full time Master's student.  She has sensory issues with her hair so washing and brushing is difficult.  Like her older sister, she also has a speech delay.

We love bubbles.  And also Pooh (he's on the couch behind her)
My husband and I made the difficult decision to try medication with our younger daughter.  The first days were so nerve wracking as we monitored her to make sure she wasn't going to have a horrible reaction.  The results have been extremely positive.  She now wants to wear clothes (she hated clothes before) and is fully potty trained after a month of the medication (she wouldn't even try to wear underwear before the meds).  She also sleeps through the night.  Her teacher reported that instead of rocking back and forth in music class, she actually started doing the actions!  We are hoping to try medication with our older daughter to see if it will also have a positive effect.
Children with Autism look completely normal on the outside.  There are no physical markers.  It is extremely embarrassing when we go out in public and they throw a tantrum.  To everyone else it looks like we have spoiled rotten brats!  But that's not the case.  They have no filter for their emotions and they don't know how to cope with disappointment.  I would like to teach them to ride a bike but they don't understand boundaries so I am afraid they would be run over.  We don't go to parks because they have run away before.  Many times, we leave them home with one of their older half-siblings so we can do our grocery shopping in peace.  Or at the very least, without the judgmental looks (although, I did have one parent who gave me a pat on the back when one of them threw a fit at Kroger - Thanks, whoever you are, that helped me not to feel like a horrible parent).

I'd love to take them to Disney World but that's out even though they'd love it (a. too expensive; b. I'm not crazy enough to even try without an army of backup; c. I'm really not sure how the younger one would react to a giant Pooh).

They have such loving, budding personalities.  Some days I wish they were normal.  They can be extremely trying. But I really don't want to change a thing.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Weekend Snow White Progress

I got quite a bit of stitching done on Snow White this weekend.  I am good with where I left off, so I will be switching to a different project. Not sure which one yet.  I have a bit of cleaning I want to get done this week.  My four year old is finally potty trained so I think it's safe to steam clean the carpet again.  There's a bit going on with the girls but I'll save that for another post.

Garden work

My garden has been having ups and downs late.  I live in North Texas, where we have lots of flooding and very unusual torrential rains.  I never expected to lose plants to overwatering!  I ended up ripping out my bell pepper plants and replacing them because they refused to do anything except turn yellow green.  I added a new tomato and pepper plant yesterday.  I thought I was going to have to replace the cherry tomato but it appears to be trying to make a come back, so I'll give it another week.

Left to right: Adele's dying Zinia, my repotted rose, Adele's new red flowers

Marigolds, Vinca, Aloe

New strawberry pot

The current state of my garden

Can you spot my little visitor?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Snow White Progress

I decided to put some work into Snow White.  With solidly stitched pieces, it's sometimes hard to see the progress because it is so slow.

How it looked

Day one of stitching 
Day 2 of stitching
My goal at the very least is to make it up to the top on the right most two columns.  After that, I will decide if I want to continue with this piece or switch.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My First Biscornu

I decided to make one of the mini biscornus out of Cross Stitch Christmas A Heartwarming Christmas.  I have never done a biscornu before so it was an interesting experience.

I did two different patterns (there were four choices).

This is the finished result:

This leaves two ornaments left for Emily's box: her baptism ornament and her 2015 ornament.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lullaby for a Princess

About a year or so ago, my stepdaughter turned me into a fan of the newest My Little Pony series, Friendship is Magic.  The first ponies came out when I was a child but I never watched the series and Hasbro has done an excellent job with it.  My daughters are also big fans, especially Adele, who now actually wants to wear My Little Pony clothing (which is a definite improvement from not wanting to wear clothing at all).

At the beginning of the series, we learn about the Princesses Celestia (ruler of day) and Luna (ruler of night).  Luna went evil and was banished to the moon 1000 years before the start of the series.  Shortly after, a fan wrote a song about how sad it was for Celestia to have banished her sister and shortly after that, another fan thought the gorgeously haunting song would make a great animation.  Almost three years later, the finished product was released and it is gorgeous.

Even if you don't really watch My Little Pony, please take a look at the video as the song is hauntingly beautiful and the animation is some of the best you'll ever see.