Every now and then my husband and I like get away from the old homestead and have some ‘us’ time. It’s an opportunity for Awesome Dude and me to stop being parents for awhile and just be ourselves again. It gives us a chance to talk to each other without our kids eavesdropping or interrupting. It’s also a break from having to deal with the latest teen trauma.
Recently, we had a lovely dinner at our favourite Mexican restaurant in town. It was like old times before the routine of child-raising took priority over all else. We chatted, laughed, had a few drinks and lingered over a wonderfully prepared meal. Good times, good times.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we just left them to fend for themselves. They’re 21, 19 and 15; old enough to be trusted not to burn the house down. The cupboards were far from bare and all three know how to cook (cleaning up afterwards is still an issue, though). We also left them some money so they could get a takeaway if they didn’t fancy cooking.
When we returned from our evening out, my youngest daughter, Sleeper Girl, was on her own in the front room.
‘Hey,’ she greeted us. ‘Did you have nice time?’
‘Very nice, thanks,’ I replied. ‘Where is everyone?’
‘Lil Diva’s gone out and Lil Awesome is in his room. He took the laptop with him.’
‘They just left you by your lonesome? That’s not nice.’
‘It’s OK, I made this. I’ve named him…Bob.’
Image via photobucket.com
‘I’m guessing you guys opted for a takeaway, then.’
‘How’d you guess? I took a picture on your camera. Have a look.’ She held my phone to my eye level. ‘Now you can see Bob every time you use your phone.’
You may be familiar with this old adage. If life hands you an unfavourable circumstance you neither wished nor bargained for, you should make the best of the situation and turn it into something sweet that everyone will be happy with. I used to find comfort in this simple philosophy. It amused me no end to think I could turn the tables on Fate.
A while back, my youngest daughter, Sleeper Girl, shared an interesting twist to this saying. “When life gives you lemons,” she said, “shove the lemons back in life’s face and say, ‘I ordered apples. Where are they?’” We both shared a giggle at the irreverence of it and thought no more of it. Well…Sleeper Girl thought no more of it. I, on the other hand, had a startling revelation about my attitude towards meekly accepting what Fate threw at me.
For years, when life handed me lemons I made lemonade. I followed this course of action doggedly because I thought Fate would eventually tire of messing with me and just give me the darned apples. So convinced I was that making lemonade was the way forward, I didn’t notice that I wasn’t going anywhere. As long as I was willing to accepted lemons, Fate had no reason to give me apples.
Now I’m not dismissing lemons out of hand. If lemonade will do just as well, then by all means make lemonade. But if you’re convinced only apples will meet your needs, don’t settle for lemons. State assertively that lemons won’t cut it and you need apples; no substitutions allowed. Stick to your guns and Fate will eventually relent and provide you with the apples you need.
With this understanding came change. I re-evaluated my goals and my reasons for setting them. This helped me sort out which goals were viable and which were just pipe dreams. The next step was to decide which goals required apples only and which ones could work with lemons instead.
It’s not easy to shed old habits. At first, I had to keep reminding myself that not only did I need apples, but I deserved them. With each apple that Fate bestows upon me however, my faith in my own abilities grows stronger.
I’m fortunate to have a family who understands my need for change. My warm and fuzzy head of household, Awesome Dude would selflessly plant an entire apple orchard for me, if he thought it would help. Bless. While I appreciate his support, there are some things you have to do for yourself. It’s the only way to build character and self-respect. It’s the only way to build a life.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to grow my own apple tree now so I don’t have to depend on capricious Fate to deliver.
The Irish have just celebrated their patron saint’s day. Now it’s time for the English to celebrate theirs.
April 23rd is St. George’s Day in England. He has been the patron saint of England since 1415 AD when English soliders led by Henry V won the battle at Agincourt. St. George is also the patron saint of Russia, Bavaria, Beirut, Czechoslovakia, Portugal, Lithuania and many other cities and countries. Nearly every European and Commonwealth country has a church dedicated to him.
Show your support for St. George and England with this simple design available from www.sewandso.co.uk.
The Crusaders were inspired by St. George’s virtue and chivalrous behaviour. The white flag with the red cross, which we’ve come to associate with England and St. George, was worn on the breast plates of English Knights as a way of recognising one another.
Measuring 2 ½” x 2 ½” (6 cm x 6 cm), this design would make an ideal magnet or key chain. You can also use it to make bespoke coasters. The kit comes with a chart, instructions, a needle, 14 ct Zweigart aida fabric and DMC floss.
This handsome portrayal of St. George slaying the dragon is also available from www.sewandso.co.uk.
The story of St. George and the dragon can be viewed as an allegory of good overcoming evil and imparting the idea of always placing trust in the Divine One.
This design measures 14″ x 14″ (35cm x 35cm) and would be suitable for a wall hanging. The kit comes with a colour-accented chart, instructions, a needle, 18 count white aida fabric and pre-sorted Anchor stranded cotton floss already loaded on a thread organiser. The convenience of having the threads ready to go was a big selling point for me. It can be quite tedious having to organise your threads when all you really want to do is start stitching.
‘Knight of St. George’ Cross Stitch Kit from www.millenia-designs.com
Knight of St. George
These cross stitch kits, available from www.millennia-designs.com, are based on a textile by Walter Crane. While the English Knight on the right-hand side is not St George, it is still a lovely portrait.
At 12¼” x 8¾ ” (31 x 22cm), this is another design that would be suitable for a wall hanging. This kit contains Zweigart 14 count aida fabric, Anchor stranded floss, a monochrome symbol counted cross stitch chart, a needle and instructions.
Happy stitching and remember to honour St. George’s Day.
It’s time again to show you how far I’ve gotten with my stitching project; my seemingly endless stitching project.
In the last update, I mentioned I would be posting a fresh update in January 2011. It was my goal to be at least three-quarters of the way through with the design by then; I may have been a bit too optimistic.
I hadn’t bargained on Thanksgiving, Christmas, my daughter and son’s birthdays, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, and my birthday taking up so much time. Most days I was lucky if I could find a spare half hour to work on this.
Still, I did manage to finish the house and most of the shading to the left of it. I hope to have the entire top half finished by the end of this week.
Progress as of 15 March 2011
Next update: Well, let’s just say I’ll post it when I have something respectable to show you and leave it at that.
With each passing day, I see trees, grass and all the surrounding landscape turning the lush green which heralds the arrival of Spring.
Speaking of green, it will soon be time for the wearing of the green as St. Patrick’s Day looms ever closer. For some strange reason, I’ve never stitched anything for St. Patrick’s Day. This year I decided to give it a go.
I searched through the various online needlework shops looking for cross stitch kits/patterns and made an odd discovery; there isn’t much out there. I did manage to find a few things though.
Cross Stitch Patterns
I came across these two cross stitch patterns on amazon.com:
Measuring approximately 2¼”W x 4¼”H (based on a 14ct), this chart is just right for a novice stitcher. The design itself has a homey appeal and comes with a small charm to add a touch of glitz. This motif can easily be stitched in an evening or two; just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
The model above was stitched using Gentle Art Sampler Threads, also available on amazon.com. The design is shown here displayed in a frame, but I feel that due to the pattern’s diminutive size, the frame overpowers the simple design. It would however be suitable for mounting in an aperture card or on the front of a non-aperture card for a unique greeting card.
This lovely pattern, also from amazon.com, measures 2½”W x 4¼”H approximately (based on 20ct) and is stitched on a 40ct silk gauze (included with the chart). This is another design that can be completed by St. Patrick’s Day. The varying shades of colours used here bring an elegant richness to the design.
The product description lists the coloured flosses used to complete the pattern, but they appear to come from different companies. I’ve tried tracking down these flosses but gave up in frustration; too much work. DMC conversions are so this would probably be an easier option.
I also managed to find a couple of free cross stitch patterns in my search for St. Patrick’s Day crafts.
St. Patrick’s Day Heaven Saying
Free St. Patrick’s Day Heaven Saying
This comical saying is sure to bring a smile to your face. Measuring, 2½”W X 4”H (based on a 14ct), this design can also be easily completed in an evening or two and would make an attractive bookmark or even a quirky fridge magnet.
When I saw this pattern, I knew this was it. This would be my first St. Patrick’s Day cross stitch project. The design contains everything we’ve come to associate with St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland without looking crowded; colourful without being garish; amusing without being cheesy. I just love it.
This design is larger than the previous ones I’ve mentioned, 7”H x 8”W (based on a 14ct) but could still be done in time for St. Patrick’s Day as it is mainly whole cross stitch and some back stitch used to highlight rather than outline.
You can find this pattern by clicking on the following url:
The website offers suggestions on how to embroider this design. Keep in mind though, needlework is an art and imagination is king. While the designer’s suggestions are helpful, have a little fun with it and dig into your bag of tricks and make this your own unique creation.
Hope you enjoyed my suggestions for St. Patrick’s Day crafts. Have a good one.
I don’t read the newspapers much these days. There’s only so much gloom, doom and celebrity gossip a person can take. So this front page story was a welcome change.
It seems that a curious, and rather intrepid, fox cub had somehow managed to climb nearly 1,000 feet up an as-yet-to-be-completed skyscraper in London, UK.
What was he doing up there? Who knows. A wildlife expert states that foxes often explore their territory to ensure that would-be intruders are aware of who has squatters’ rights. Apparently Romeo, as he has been christened by his rescuers, was determined to make a thorough job of it. He managed to climb to the 72nd floor of the structure where he was stranded for two weeks before being discovered by a construction worker. He has since been released back into the City. (The fox, that is, not the construction worker.)
You just can’t help but admire Romeo’s resourcefulness in adapting and surviving in an alien environment. If you’ve been inspired by this plucky little critter’s story, have a look at the following cross stitch charts and kits and see any of them take your fancy.
I’ve been doing needlework of some kind for 40 years now and I still get excited when starting a new project. I love every step of it. I spend sometimes up to an hour trying to decide which of the many charts and kits I’ve accumulated over the years to do next. Should I do another horse design (my favourites)?
Once I’ve made my choice, I then work out how to make it my own. Cross stitch is my way of indulging my creative side. I often go off book to find a way to give the design my own personal touch.
I begin by selecting the material I’ll be stitching on. I look, really look at the design I’ve chosen to get a feel for the mood it’s trying to convey, then I make my choice.
During the actual stitching, I often substitute stitches if I feel the charted one isn’t appropriate. If I feel a quarter or three-quarter stitch would be more suitable then that’s what I use.
And contrary to what old school cross stitchers may say, I don’t feel you have to back stitch the design within an inch of its life. Many times I find ‘selective back stitching’ can highlight a design more than just back stitching everything.
With my choices made and my materials assembled, I begin stitching (always starting in the centre) with high hopes. Whenever I begin a new project, I always promise myself I won’t mess up this time. This time I won’t have to unpick two or three times because I miscounted. This time it will be ‘perfect’.
It never is.
I do miscount. I do have to unpick. And I get annoyed with myself. ’It’s not rocket science, you know,’ I berate myself. ’All you have to do is count. Seriously, how hard is that,’ I scold myself. So being the obsessive-compulsive character I am, I unpick, restitch, make another mistake, unpick, restitch, make another mistake and on and on until I get so frustrated I let the mistake go and finish the design as is. Then feel guilty for displaying something that is less than perfect. It doesn’t matter that admirers don’t notice there’s a mistake; it doesn’t matter that they are not even aware there is a mistake. I know it’s there. This was the torment I would put myself through for decades.
This morning while working on my current project, I noticed yet another mistake. I had made this one the previous day and it would have taken me ages to unpick and restitch everything. I walked away in frustration and made myself a coffee. I stayed in the kitchen sipping my coffee, wondering if I had the strength to correct the mistake. Eventually I walked back to it, still undecided if I should do the right thing or pretend I never saw the error.
It’s funny. I’ve been working on this garden scene on and off for nearly three years now; I counted, placed, looked at every stitch I made on it. But now as I looked at the design as a whole, it was as if I was looking at the it for the first time. I realised that perfection had no place here. This was a design inspired by Nature. Nature uses no set plan to create breathtaking scenery. The beauty lies in Nature’s imperfection. Trees are uneven, mountains are rugged, rivers are mercurial.
If Nature follows no set rules, there’s no reason why my cross stitch garden should. So, no I’m not going to fix this mistake. It’s right at home amongst the leaves and flowers. And in future when I make a mistake, I’ll be sure to ‘look at the big picture’ first before declaring myself a failure.
Hoping you all had a lovely festive season and wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Image via Wikipedia
The old routine is back in place here in the UK. The holiday season is officially over and most everybody is back at work or school. Now that it’s quiet, I have time to look back on the year just gone and to look forward to the year ahead; much like the two-faced god of Roman mythology, Janus.
Every year I always resolve to do things differently. I think,
‘This is the year I’m going to get my life together. I’m going to lose weight, get in shape, sort out the finances etc,’ I usually get off to a great start, but somewhere along the way all my resolutions always seem to crumble in the face of reality. The reality being I simply don’t have the time to make all the changes necessary to realise my ambitions by the end of the year.
So maybe I should just stop making resolutions all together. Maybe I should stop trying to improve myself and my situation and just learn to live with it.
But I can’t. I won’t.
Not when I know that my goals are not unobtainable. Not when I know there is a way to break through the wall that inevitably comes between me and my goals.
Maybe the problem lies in the resolutions themselves. They’re just too general. Instead of saying, ‘This year I’m going to lose weight,’ I should say, ‘This year, I’m giong to cut back on the junk food.’ Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to exercise more,’ I should say, ‘I’m going to attend a weekly exercise class.’ Instead of trying to erase all the outstanding debts at once, I should concentrate on the largest one first. If I just focus my efforts on those three small changes, I’ll that little bit closer to realizing my goals.
When my youngest daughter, Sleeper Girl, was eight years old, she had a fascination with fairies. There was a fairy for every aspect of her life. There was the School Fairy, the Homework Fairy, the Sleep Fairy (naturally) and the Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Fairies (respectively). There was a even the Shoe Fairy. According to Sleeper Girl, she was responsible for maintaining the world’s supply of shoes. When I explained to her that shoes were made by elves at night while the cobbler slept, she waved it aside saying, ‘The Shoe Fairy is their supervisor.’
Shortly after this enlightening discussion, I was perusing my Cross Stitcher Magazine (May 2001, Issue No. 108) when I came across a sweet collection of pastel-coloured cross stitch fairies designed by Ms. Sharonlee Holder. Wasting no time, I went to work.
I went through my collection of needlework supplies (which I keep in my trusty Rolling Robox) and found a square of 14 ct, cream aida large enough for me to stitch all six fairies. Then I went through my DMC thread collection and gathered together all the floss I would need. I even found some gold metallic thread which I used on the ‘Dancing Fairy’ to add a touch of sparkle to her wand and fairy dust.
This is an ideal project for cross stitching beginners. The designs consist of whole and back stitches and measure 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ (6cm x 6cm). One fairy can easily be stitched in one evening.
In less than a week the fairies were stitched up and mounted in two frames each fitted with a three-aperture mounting board. I had purchased these frames from a vendor at an International Craft and Hobby Fair (ICHF) exhibition thinking they might come in handy one day.
The beauty of these designs can be found not only in their appearance but also in their versatility. They are suitable for framing, of course. But they work as well as for creating small greeting cards, place cards for themed parties, plant pokes to add embellishment to indoor potted plants. They would also look lovely on clothing and accessories.
With the variety of materials and colours available nowadays, it would be a shame to limit yourself to white or cream aida canvas. Try a sky blue 32ct linen or a sunshine yellow hardanger. Add some glitz with metallic threads, as I have done for the ‘Dancing Fairy’, or with a few strategically placed beads.