21 June 2022

2022: Summer of...

A few weeks ago I was rambling about my new-ish tradition of having a theme for my summer stitching. In late spring of 2020, when we were all still trying to adjust to the awful reality of the pandemic, I was casting about for something cheerful and distracting to focus on and came up with Summer of Halloween. Our first Halloween in that neighborhood was a blast and reminded me I hadn't stitched any new Halloween pretties in forever, so I decided to spend the summer just stitching that. I enjoyed it so much I did Summer of the WIP in 2021, working to finish some long-neglected projects. 

What to do about 2022? This year has been... well, y'all have been here. You know. I hadn't given a thought to my summer stitching theme until some time in May. I was sitting in temporary quarters one afternoon, trying to come up with a theme, something I would really enjoy. Something calming. Something therapeutic. Something that would help me recover from these difficult months. And then I thought of the perfect project. Exactly the right project.

Me.

I'm the project.

2022 is the Summer of Me.

I got out my little notebook and started jotting down things I'd like to do over the summer that would be just for me. Things I enjoy. Things that calm the mind and repair frayed nerves. Things that are quiet, and slow, and pretty. And of course, creative. Things that got swept away in the upheaval and grief of the last six months.

Reading on my pretty little patio

Having tea with my favorite tea sets

Getting back to my rowing machine (Mr. Wonderful attributes this love of rowing to my Viking genetic memory... lol)

Baking, baking, and more baking (thus all the rowing!)

Of course, stitching... I have a couple of projects chosen

And all the little things you let go of when your hands are too full of hard things to hold onto them.

There's something else I want to do. Something I absolutely love--get lost in--and always, always, always put off because there's always something more important I should be doing. 

Finishing and framing

When I get going on a pile of stitching that needs finishing or framing, I may as well have fallen down a rabbit hole. I become totally absorbed. I make a mess. I spend hours and hours and then days and days at it. I completely lose myself in it. I thoroughly enjoy it. Which is why I rarely take the time to do it. Which is... backwards and wrong? My reasoning goes something like this (stop me if you've heard this in your own head): "I can't tackle this pile of finishes because if I do I'll end up spending days on it and I have all this other stuff to do and I can't just disappear into my sewing room for days so maybe once I get all this other stuff done I can get to it..." And of course we know that all that other stuff never gets completely done and so we never feel like we can break away and play. 

Not this summer. This summer, I want to finish and frame until I go cross-eyed. I want to enter my sewing room after my morning row and only emerge for snacks. I want to make a mess. I want to throw some things into my slow cookers for supper (two new cookbooks have arrived!) and walk away from the kitchen. I want to spend an hour trying to choose just the right embellishment. I want to re-pin something three times. I want to beautify the things I've stitched so they can live where I can see and enjoy them, instead of in the finishes box. 

And it's almost as if this was the plan all along. My sewing room is small, but it's painted a soft, sunny yellow (by some past resident) and has a bay window. My pink and green sewing room is going to clash magnificently with the yellow paint, but I don't care. I think my soul needs sunny walls and a bay window. 

So it's the Summer of Me. I'll be quietly puttering away, putting myself back together. You're most welcome to drop in any time. Consider it a season-long open house. We'll have tea. We'll eat tiny baked goodies. We'll get lost in the sewing room. We'll sit on the patio and listen to the birds. And we'll feel better. (I won't make you row.)

See you soon, my dears.





12 June 2022

Baby Fox is finished!

I'm somewhat surprised I have a finish to share in the midst of moving chaos, but I do. Isn't he sweet? I love his expression. This is one of my Ukrainian designs, stitched with DMC on the Zweigart manufactured 32 ct. fabric from Hobby Lobby in the color Spa. What a lovely boy.


Unpacking is moving along. My kitchen is about 90% put together, so that's the biggest job pretty much done. I've got a few days of work left around the house before I can get at my sewing room, but I'm hoping I can start on that at the end of this week. Mr. Wonderful is down with a summer cold and I need his help with a few things, so my plans may be delayed a bit, but I'm close to getting to that sewing room. Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed I do not catch his cold! No time for that nonsense!


07 June 2022

Ukrainian Stash

While we're waiting for me to unpack my sewing room, let's look at my Ukrainian haul! Back in this post I shared some links to several Ukrainian designers' Etsy shops for those who might want to support them through their work. Over the next few weeks, I did some shopping with them and photographed my new stash but didn't get a chance to share before we moved. Let's see what I got...

First, of course, foxes! 

This gorgeous design is from KitsBySAstitch and is part of a series of animals bundled up in winter clothes. They are all absolutely beautiful.

Fox Silhouette: HappyLittleMouse
Grandma Fox: MrStitchxMrsNeedle
Spring is in the Air: NonStopStitch


Swamp Sampler: StitchyPrincess
Joy, Autumn Fairy, Pumpkin Mousse: NonStopStitch

Swamp Sampler? Yes! Big fan of all things green, critters, and unique designs, and this one has it all. I just love the warm, summery feel of this sampler. I can almost hear the buzz of the insects, the croak of the frogs, and the bird calls. What a great summer project.

Moving from summer to fall, feast your eyes on this fantastic turkey from AwesomePatternStudio! Y'all know how much I love this type of design and it's an ideal style for a turkey.


Lighthouses and Seagulls: NonStopStitch

If you're a lighthouse lover, that's your shop. They have a series of really pretty ones. I held myself back and only got two. For now.

That's my haul. I made a pretty notebook to hold my pdf designs, put them in plastic document protectors, and divided the notebook into categories. When I find it, I'll show it to y'all. 

Hope you're inspired to check out these shops (and the others in the linked post) and that you find some designs you didn't know you needed. These are not the only Ukrainian shops on Etsy. You can filter your search of cross stitch pdfs (or anything) by country of origin and find a lot more.

Back to unpacking. Happy Stitching!

01 June 2022

My Travel Kitchen


We got our shipment on Thursday and oh my word, what a day. It poured rain all day. The unload--which took three hours for our last move--took seven hours. At the end of the unload, the truck was empty and we were missing 45 items. The next two hours were spent painstakingly going through the inventory and hunting through the house, locating and matching items missing inventory stickers, or missed on the call-out, a task made much more difficult by the less-than-exact inventory prepared by the company at the other end. Thankfully, we had a good crew who calmly and cheerfully searched through the chaos and we ended up finding everything. What a blessing they were. But y'all. We have never had a move like this. We've already found some damage and I'm praying there isn't more.

And that will be just about enough of that. Onward. Last week I mentioned my travel kitchen, my bare minimum of kitchen things that I take with us so that I can make simple meals as we wait for quarters, or for our stuff to catch up to us. I've been doing this for years and never thought to share, probably because we've never been displaced for this long. All of this stuff fits in a hard-sided, collapsible grocery tote that measures 13"L x 11"W x 11"H, with the exception of the small crockpot.

Here's my list. Easy to customize to your own preferences and useful in all kinds of situations, not just moving. I also should note that this list assumes access to a microwave and a small fridge, which are pretty standard no matter where you stay.

Slow cookers: 3 qt, 1.5 qt

Dishtowels

Dishwashing liquid, scrubby

Cutting board, small knife

Liquid measure, measuring cups/spoons

Saucepan

Micro-cooker (2 qt., Pampered Chef)

Small tongs

Can opener

Spatula, serving spoon

Mix n' Chop (Pampered Chef)

Pizza cutter, ice cream scoop (yes, bring the scoop)

*****

I love my slow cooker collection and use them all the time, and they really are invaluable when you don't have a kitchen. The 3 qt. size is perfect for the two of us: large enough to accommodate a pretty wide range of recipes, but small enough to take up very little space. The 1.5 qt. is just right for a small side dish, or even a small dessert. I also use it to cook chicken breasts for other recipes (it will hold a package of 3). Lots of great low-prep and no-prep recipes out there for both sizes.

The Pampered Chef items I've had for years and are some of my most used. The micro-cooker (microwave) can be used to steam vegetables, heat stuff, and even brown ground beef. This 2 qt. size also doubles as a mixing bowl. The mix n' chop is what I use to break up cooked ground beef.

And that's it. Just a small tote of essentials and you can set up a tiny but adequate kitchen and get a break from fast food. There are a number of "slow cooker for two" cookbooks to choose from, with recipes sized for these smaller crockpots, or you can just do some googling and choose what looks good to you. 

There is definitely an emotional boost from smelling the aroma of a favorite dish wafting through an empty house, or in our case, a house that smells of cardboard boxes. Having supper simmering away all day as I unpack endless boxes--without having to frantically find kitchen things to cook with--makes me feel like I might survive this.

Happy Cooking!


25 May 2022

Calm Before the Storm

 


My goodness, it rains a lot here. Fine with me. I love rainy days. Except when I'm trying to photograph finishes. And when I'm trying to move. Our shipment arrives tomorrow and of course there is torrential rain in the forecast. Because of course. *sigh*

But we're really, really ready to get this move done. "Camping" gets old after a couple of months. However, if you plan a bit, you can camp with some new patio furniture. At least we have something to sit on.

Speaking of which, think I'll share my "travel kitchen" with y'all next week. It's my little collection of the absolute bare minimum of kitchen things that I travel with so I can make simple meals when we're between homes and waiting on shipments. Eating fast food every day for weeks is demoralizing, not to mention expensive. Even the simplest food you make yourself is a comfort compared to that.

So tomorrow is the big day. Fingers crossed the rain holds off.

23 May 2022

In the House

 

We are fiiiinally in our house after five weeks in temporary quarters. Base housing won't be available for 6-8 months so we're renting for the next year. Our shipment gets here Thursday, Lord willing and the creek don't rise. This is our backyard. 

I got some stitching done while waiting, but not a huge amount. Here's my baby fox I mentioned a few posts ago. Really, if you need a mindless but enjoyable stitch ("low threat" as Mr. Wonderful would say), these geometric animal designs are the best. Loads of them on Etsy.


One of the things I've been doing is mentally "decorating" the pretty little screened in patio we now have. Honestly, it's the thing I like best about this house. I've chosen a pale aqua and taupe color scheme and I can't wait to get it pulled together. Miss Tiger Lily is also getting a fancy new cat perch so she can enjoy the patio, too.

Moving is so tiring, sometimes you just fall asleep on your face. But we are almost there. My goal is to have the house completely done by the end of June. I always prioritize the kitchen and bedroom, and my sewing room is always last, so it'll be a while before we can get back in there and play.

I'm so looking forward to being able to post regularly and share my stitching and finishing. If you've been here for a bit, you may remember my Summer of Halloween (2020) and my Summer of the WIP (2021). When I decided to do Summer of Halloween, I wasn't thinking of starting a tradition. I just hadn't stitched any Halloween in a while and I was wanting a fun project to focus on during that first pandemic summer. I ended up enjoying having a summer theme so much that I did it again last year. 

With my dad passing and this prolonged move right on the heels of that, I haven't had the head space to devote to thinking about a summer theme for this year, but a few days ago, a little idea crept quietly into my addled brain. Not sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but it's just patiently sitting there, waiting for me. 

2022: Summer of... ?

26 April 2022

Quick Update


Just popping in for a minute and testing posting from my phone, which I've never had to do before. We're in temporary quarters at our new base. Very comfortable, but not like home, of course. Housing is a problem here and we're on a waiting list for quarters, but thankfully we did manage to find a place to live as we wait. Signed a lease yesterday. Huge relief. Our new place isn't available til late May, so we'll be hanging out in temporary quarters for a while yet. 

Tiger Lily has been a trooper, as always, but this upheaval has been hard on her. She's been a bit sick but seems to be feeling better now. She's chomping away on her snacks as I type this (with my thumbs... on my phone... *sigh*).


We're all kinda wiped out but hopefully now that we have the pressure of finding a place to live relieved, we can relax a bit before the next stage of this move: getting our shipment and unpacking. 

I haven't put in a stitch since early April. My brain has had two speeds over the last few weeks: "bag of squirrels" and "off". Not great for settling down to stitch. Maybe now I can.

Thank you for speeding us along with prayers and encouraging words. This has been a tough one, but I think we can see light at the end of the tunnel. 

Also, if this phone posting thing works, I may be unstoppable. Stay tuned.

10 April 2022

Signing off for a while

 

Hey y'all. Packers come Monday, movers come Wednesday, we leave for our next duty station on Thursday. I don't know how long it will be before I can resume posting, but it may be a while. Thank you so much to each and every one of you for all your prayers and well wishes for our move, and thank you for the birthday wishes for Tiger Lily. Hope to see y'all sooner rather than later. Take care, and Happy Stitching!

02 April 2022

Birthday Girl

 

Sixteen years old and still beautiful. Happy Birthday, precious Tiger Lily.

21 March 2022

A what and a what?

A finish and a start! Okay, the finish is my three-months-late 2021 Christmas ornament, but it's done, and that's better than not done, no matter how long it takes. This is my slightly modified version of this design. Just smooshed it down a bit, left off the words, and added a few snowflakes. Very bright and cheerful.

And here's my new start, one of my purchases in support of Ukrainian designers (please see this post). This adorable baby fox is from this shop. The fabric is the Zweigart manufactured brand from Hobby Lobby, 32 ct. in the color Spa.


Why am I starting this now, when I'm up to my eyebrows in moving? No idea. I've stitched a couple of foxes in this style (Sleeping Fox and Mandala Fox) and really enjoyed doing them. The blocks of color (or even patterns of color, as with Mandala Fox) make keeping track of where you are really easy, and the stitching goes pretty quickly. Not much counting or concentrating. So, pretty good project for when you have 50 other things on your mind.

Speaking of which, thank you so much for your prayers and well wishes for our upcoming move. This has been a difficult year already, and we have challenges ahead, but we've also been so blessed. I certainly count it as a blessing to be able to get lost in my stitching, and to have a place to share it, and y'all are part of that. 

Happy Stitching

17 March 2022

Nostalgia

 

Sometimes you just find something that makes your heart happy. Browsing around on Etsy a while back, I stumbled across this 37-year old (!) leaflet. It was $4.95 and I was tickled pink. Why?

Because these two little designs were hanging on the wall as stitched models at the very first cross stitch shop I ever frequented. I remember seeing them every time I visited. 

It's gone now, as so many are, but I spent many, many happy hours there and these chubby little bluebirds bring back such memories. I intend to stitch them for my sewing room. And I'll have to stitch that little chickadee, too, because I adore chickadees.

11 March 2022

Now, about that bag...


If you've been here for a while, you may remember before we moved here three years ago, I prepared a "mini stash" to see me through the upheaval of the move. I'm not a stitcher who "kits up" lots of projects in advance, however in this instance, I decided to put together a bunch of small projects to have available in case I was separated from my precious hoard for too long. As it turned out, the move went smoothly and we got quarters right away (thankfully), so I didn't end up needing it desperately. 

This move... well, it's another story. It doesn't appear things are going to fall into place as we had hoped, so I may be stashless for some time. Which we're not going to dwell on. What we are going to dwell on is my fabulous new stitching bag. 

Last time, I placed each project in a very fancy ziplock bag and tucked them all in a tote bag. I was so fancy. This time, I am fancy beyond words. Behold, the glory of this bag!

Inside front and first "page" (*flips the page*)

First and second pages (*flip*)


Second and third pages

Third and fourth pages (velcro closures)

Fourth page and inside back (more velcro closures)

This will give you a good idea of the size. That's an 11" x 12.5" q-snap lying flat in the back of the bag. 


It's also nice and wide.


And here she is, fully loaded and ready for whatever moving-related nonsense lies ahead! It's really more like a small, soft-sided suitcase (size wise) than a stitching bag. It holds a ton of stuff.

I got this bag on Amazon (Earthwise Arts & Crafts Storage Bag Organizer with 17 compartments). This size also comes in red, and I believe there is a smaller size, so if you're browsing, make sure about the size you want.

I always overestimate how much stitching I'll get done in situations like this, but it's nice to know I can dive into my mini stash at any moment and have a lot of projects to choose from, all neatly organized and ready to go.

Happy Stitching!

07 March 2022

Stuff & Things & Helping Ukrainians

 

Hey, y'all. I'm still here, at least for a little bit. We got our orders and will be moving in the middle of April, but I'm not sure how long it will be before we're settled enough for me to post regularly. The house is pretty much ready for the movers, and I've already done the pre-move heavy cleaning I always do. All that's left is my sewing room, which is partly done and isn't much trouble anyway. So over all, we're in good shape as far as that's concerned. As for other things, this move is going to be considerably more challenging than others we've done, but let's not dwell on that here. Let's just look at pretty scissors, and fabric, and stitching goodies, and stuff.

I haven't done much shopping; been too busy pulling the house apart for the move. But I have managed to pick up a few Emotional Support Goodies here and there. Treated myself to a new pair of Bohin scissors and a cute little needle minder. The polka dot scissor sheaths are a favorite of mine and you can find them in lots of Etsy shops. 


This is the fabric info. I ordered this from a Ukrainian seller on Etsy before the war started (can't believe I have to type that) as I'd never seen this in the US market. The number 7159 is the color designation, in case you go looking for it. More on the Ukrainian Etsy shops in a minute.

A few more bits of fabric, because fabric cheers us up. Left to right: Sandcastle Jobelan, PTP Mello, PTP Crystal Arctic. 

Couple of winter charts I picked up. The Heart in Hand one will be getting a color conversion at some point, just to deepen the colors a bit.

I also got a new stitching bag for the move. More on this bag in a few days. Watch this space, because you're gonna want to see inside this thing.

So about the Ukrainian Etsy shops. I have been ordering from a number of them for years and have always had very good service. Some ship stitching supplies and kits, some sell only pdf downloadable designs, some sell all of those things. I've linked many of these shops whenever I show a finish or a product. As of this writing, most of the Ukrainian shops I've ordered from are still up and running, though some have pulled the listings for anything that must be shipped (for obvious reasons) and left only pdf listings active.

There are numerous aid organizations to choose from to help the Ukrainians, but if you're looking for yet another way to do so, you can directly help them by supporting their shops. It may not seem like much, but for someone who is unable to work because of the war, four or five orders coming in may put food on the table for the day. 

If you're looking for a change from the sampler/primitive-heavy, muted color palette of the American market, check out Ukrainian designers. Their work is detailed, colorful, cheerful, whimsical. I'll list the shops I've purchased from, but there are more to explore. You can search "cross stitch patterns" on Etsy and filter the country of origin. (Shops are active as of this writing.)

KitsBySAstitch  Check out the series of animals in winter clothes... gorgeous! (I have the fox, chipmunk is on my list!)

NonStopStitch  I've stitched several designs from this shop. Beautiful set of lighthouse designs and so much more.

CutePatternsByMaria  Really charming. The Pet Collection has wonderful dog designs in many breeds. I stitched the Chow as a bookmark.

2x2StitchArt  Bold, bright designs. The nature category and the geometric category are not to be missed!

WonderlandUkraine  In calmer times, this shop has beautiful wood stitching accessories. Their digital downloads are still active.

AwesomePatternStudio  This is the shop where I bought my gorgeous Mandala Fox. So many animals to choose from, and such an enjoyable and relaxing style to stitch.

StitchyPrincess  Unique, folk art-style designs. I just purchased that lovely, swampy green sampler.

I hope you find some things you like. And remember...

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.


15 January 2022

Saturday Sampler: Keeping Busy Edition

 

Before we get to important stitching news, I want to thank all of you for the continued prayers and the lovely messages for me and my family. I deeply appreciate all of them. This year has not started out as we had hoped, but we are blessed beyond measure and I count all of you among those blessings. I'm thankful to you and for you. (And for Tiger Lily, who has been my constant companion since I returned from Texas.)

Now, let's talk stitching, shall we? First, my 2021 blog book just arrived. This is a yearly tradition I treat myself to every January. I use this service and have always been happy with the books. There are discount codes on their Facebook page (you don't have to have a FB account to see them) and I recommend waiting for a current code if you're thinking of making a book. I am a paper and pencil, hard copy kinda gal, and I love having my blog in book form. 






As you might imagine, I didn't get to have my annual Stitchy Planning Week between Christmas and the New Year, so when I got back from Texas I started trying to put my mind to a little planning. At least for the first half of the year, my plans aren't as ambitious as they usually are since we'll be moving at some point. Don't know where, don't know when. Not stressful at all. So I needed some small, enjoyable, accomplishable (new word!) projects to get me through the coming months. Here's what I came up with:

This is free! Twelve pretty, seasonal bouquets and you can see all of them! I've only ever done one mystery SAL (large stitched piece with a common border, and you don't know what's coming) and from that experience I learned I'm not a mystery SAL person. I ended up going my own way on four of the last five installments, and while I'm very happy with the finished piece, I discovered that I'm a bit too much of a control enthusiast to put time and money for supplies into a large project I haven't seen. (If you love them, there are lots starting this month!)

And this is why I love this SAL. I'm stitching each bouquet individually as that's what works for me right now, but if you want to stitch them together, you can see what the finish will look like. January bouquet is up now.

She has also provided a list of all the hand dyed threads needed for the entire project, along with DMC conversions, so if you want to gather your supplies for the whole project, you can do so. 

I love the SAL explosion that happens every January. This did not used to be a thing, but in recent years it seems to have really taken off and while I don't do a lot of SALs, I'm happy to see anything that increases interest in stitching. If you'd like to join a SAL, this is a great list:


There are all kinds available. Some are free, some not. Some are mystery, some not. Different techniques. 

I think more than SALs, I enjoy monthly series. I guess that can be considered a SAL, but maybe with a series you feel you can drop in and out as you choose, and you don't have to stitch every installment. Or maybe that's just me. Or maybe it's the lack of a border? Maybe I just have psychological issues? If it has a border it's a SAL and if it doesn't it's a series? I have no idea... 

Anyway.

This is my second choice and I am so looking forward to it. Last year I stitched her Tea & Coffee Series (still need to stitch December), and I loved it. I was hoping she'd do another series this year, and when I saw it was birds I just melted! I adore birds and I must say, it felt like a little gift just for me. Please do check out her Etsy shop. She has so many pretty things.

Also, keep your eyes open for Nashville Market goodies. I have noticed the very first few items begin to show up, one of which is a new edition of the Market cookbook they began producing a couple of years ago. Very cute little cookbooks with some small designs included. I'll try to remember to post Market preview pages when shops start putting them up.

Lots to look forward to in the stitchy world, and lots to keep busy with. Hope you're all happy and healthy and stitching up a storm!