Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Stitching

This was the first year that I set stitching goals for myself. I'm not sure how helpful they were. On the one hand, having established goals helped to keep me focused on certain projects and I accomplished a lot. On the other hand, some of my goals fell by the wayside in favor of other things.

I did particularly well with my UFO and WIP goals for 2006. I wanted to finish three UFOs: Santa's Magic, Pansy Needleroll, and Mother's Love Needleroll. I also finished the three WIPs that were on my goal list: Snow Wonderful, Spanish Geometrical Sampler, and Castle Sampler.

I was about 50/50 on the list of things that I wanted to start and finish. I did not even start Prairie Garden or the Shepherd's Bush stocking that I planned to do for myself. But, I did finish the stitching on Robert's Stocking, Quaker Diamond, and my Valentine's exchange project.

I also met my goal of starting Persian Iris Garden. I haven't been great about keeping up over the last several months, though. I'm hoping to finish this one in 2007, but I'm not making any promises. ;) It has grown to the point that it is nearly too large for my biggest Q-snaps, so I've been concentrating on one corner rather than doing all of each section as it is published.

The goals that I really came up short on were the ones for assembling FUFOs. I had a list of six, and of those, the only one that is assembled is Deck the Halls Bellpull (sorry, no pic yet, because I just finished it). Despite not assembling the intended FUFOs, I finished several others that had been sitting around for ages. I assembled seven FUFOs in all... just not the ones that I had intended. I also did a lot of assembly work and learned several new finishing techniques along the way, thanks to the various exchanges that I joined this year. I participed in 17 exchanges in all this year. Unfortunately, there were a couple that made it into the mailbox before I had a change to photograph them. >:(

All in all, 2006 was an extremely productive stitching year for me. I completed a total of 37 projects and assembled a total of 24 projects (including exchanges). Not too bad! I haven't decided whether I'll set goals for 2007. I probably will, but I plan to keep them modest (again).

Friday, December 22, 2006

Final Exchange pic, and a happy dance

Marie has received the gift that I sent for the Winter Blast exchange, so I can now post a picture. The design is Random Thoughts of Winter. I have to admit that I didn't much enjoy stitching the whole thing with white floss, but I think the result was worth the trouble. I decided to finish this as a wall hanging-- a new finishing technique for me. I was happy with how it turned out, but it was quite a learning experience. BF really liked it and has informed me that I need to finish some of my stitching into wall hangings for us. ;)

We spent the last week in the country. I decided not to take any large projects with me. I took all of my new Little House Needleworks kits instead. After digging through my considerable stash of needlework fabrics, I pulled out a piece of 32 ct. putty linen that will work nicely for a couple of these. The first one that I stitched was "Acorns," which was the December design. I just love the little squirrel on this one!

Thanks for all of the recent comments. I keep promising myself that I am going to take some time out of the holiday preparations to read all of your blogs, but that isn't happening just yet. At the moment, I'm in the midst of my annual holiday baking. Our family get-together has grown too large for gift exchanges, so I've gotten into the habit of making baskets or tins of holiday goodies for each family group each year. I have to fill 10 (!!!!!) baskets in time for the get-together at noon on Sunday. I like everything to be fresh, so I'm barely started. It's going to be a BUSY couple of days!

Some of you may remember that our tree fell down last year (under the weight of all the ornaments LOL) on Christmas eve, right in the middle of my holiday baking extravaganza. Fortunately, the tree is looking stable this year, so I don't think there will be any "excitement" to distract me from the kitchen.

A note on the sofa photo... the sofa pictured is the new sofa that will be arriving in a couple of months. I'm getting a different color, though-- the orangish-red color that is on the top of the swatches. It looks much more orange in the photo than it does IRL. I wanted a "statement" piece, and this fits the bill perfectly. I couldn't find any contrast fabric that I was crazy about, so the throw pillows will all be the same fabric as the sofa. I'll make some contrasting pillows myself later.

Well, that's enough of a ramble from me. I'm off to the kitchen to check on my fudge!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Final Exchange of 2006

I am happy to report that my last exchange for 2006 is in the mail. On time! :) This one was for the Winter Blast exchange. I tried a new finishing technique-- I'll share a photo as soon as it arrives at its destination.

Meanwhile, I got older this week. BF & I aren't ones for much hoopla, but I did haul him to the LNS where he got me the four latest Little House Needleworks Crescent Colors chartpacks. I picked up the first three when I was at Hershey in September. BF added Berries, Peaches, Pumpkins, and Acorns to my collection.

I also got myself a little present-- a new sofa! I've been searching for quite a while and finally decided on one. Of course, since it's a custom order, I won't actually have it for another 2 or 3 months.

My culinary adventure for the week was cooking my first duck. I used a recipe for Roast Duck in Cherry and Black Peppercorn Sauce from Food Network. It was a bit of trouble getting all of the ingredients together, not to mention picking the pinfeathers out of the duck, but it was well worth the effort. The recipe turned out even better than I expected, and the duck itself was picture perfect. The only thing I'd change is the quantity of the sauce-- it makes a bit too much.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More Exchanges

Today's exchange update is from the SBEBB Christmas ornament exchange. First is the gorgeous ornament that I received from Veronica. This was the "mystery" package that I received several days ago. The mystery came because there was no note and no return address, so I wasn't completely sure who sent it, or what exchange it was from. I design is just perfect for me-- it was one that I wanted to stitch, but hadn't found the time. The alphabet is stitched over one, and it is beautifully finished. :)

And here's a photo of the whole package...

The peppermint bark is my new favorite addiction. I haven't tried the teas yet, but I'm especially interested in the pomegranate white tea. It sounds great. ;)

I also received word that the ornament that I stitched for Cindy has arrived at its destination. This is another that I may have to stitch for myself. ;)

I personalized the back with our names and the year.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Exchange Updates

This has been an extremely busy exchange season for me. I signed up for so many in the last couple of months that it seems that I am always sending or receiving something. This week, my mailbox has been especially full. :)

The first exchange was from the USEBB pinkeep exchange. This little beauty is from Jo. The pattern is from JBW Designs, and I think it came out in a recent JCS issue.

I love the fabric that she used for the back!

I stitched a pinkeep for Becky. The design I chose was actually a Christmas ornament pattern from an older JCS ornaments issue. I had stitched this for myself as an ornament earlier this year, and decided that it would be perfect as a pinkeep. So, I stitched it again, this time using non-holiday colors. The fabric was 32 ct. Amsterdam blue linen, and I used Waterlilies "seafoam" thread.

I personalized the back with our names and the year, along with a couple of elements of the design.

Yesterday, I received THREE packages in the mail. :) :) :) I had a fantastic time opening all of them. At the moment, I can only show two of them, because there is a *teeny* bit of mystery concerning the third. I'll be posting more on that later. ;)

One of the packages was this lovely ornament from Nancy. The design is by Linda McMillen. Nancy made a tuck pillow for this, but left it unstuffed, which made for a very pretty finish. She even made the little buttons herself out of Sculpey! :)

Here's a pic of the whole package. I thought the CD of Christmas music was a great idea!

The next package was from the USEBB Winter Blast exchange, stitched by Vonna. This flat-fold is so beautifully finished. She even trimmed it with little snowflakes and personalized it with our initials and exchange info on the back.

The rest of the package was also wonderful, with assorted winter-themed goodies.

Of course, I've also been sending out some exchanges myself. The only one that I'm sure has been received is this ornement that I stitched for Toni. I really liked the way this one turned out-- I just might have to stitch another to keep. ;)

I hope I haven't worn your eyes out with all of these pictures. There will be more to come over the next several days. Stay tuned...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Spanish Geometrical Sampler

Thanks for all the nice comments about Spanish
Geometrical Sampler. It was an enjoyable piece to
stitch, but it took a long time to complete. There
were some points along the way where I thought I might
never finish.

Originally, the sampler was designed in shades of
purple and green. There's a photo from the pattern at">Needle's
Content. I started with a skein of Waterlilies
that I liked, and chose coordinating colors. The
project was stitched on 40 ct. lambswool linen. My
"rough" color conversion is listed below. There were
a few small areas of the chart where I didn't
substitute exactly as listed, but the majority of the
design was substituted as shown here.

Original/My Conversion
Waterlilies Olive - NPI 645 (Dk. Blue-green)
Waterlilies Jade - NPI 514 (Med. Mint green)
Waterlilies Hyacinth - Silk 'n' Colors Dragon's Breath
Soie Cristale 1091 - Waterlilies Rainforest
Soie Cristale 1092 - Silk 'n' Colors Copper Rose

The design also called for two colors of Mill Hill
beads - 10029 and 10027. I eliminated the beads,
since I was using 40 ct. fabric, and substituted floss
colors from the list above. I didn't follow any
specific conversion to replace the beads. I simply
used whatever floss color I thought looked best in any
given section. I also added a few stitches to one
section. ;)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy Dance!!!

I nearly forgot to post my latest happy dance-- a project completed just over a week ago, on the day after Thanksgiving. With my lack of computer time and focus on exchange stitching, this one nearly slipped through the cracks. And it's a big one! I finally finished Spanish Geometrical Sampler. Woohoo!!!

Also, I realized after Tessa asked about Robert's Stocking that I really need to update my sidebar. It's terribly out-of-date. Tessa, the stitching on Robert's Stocking has been completed for a while. I just need to add the embellishments, which I've purchased but haven't found the time to sew on. I had hoped also to finish Sophie's Stocking this year, so that BF and I would have a matched pair, but I didn't even start the second stocking. Oh well, maybe we'll have them by next Christmas.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ornament Exchange & other news

I signed up for three ornament exchanges this year. The first was for an email group that I participate in. I had a fantastic package from Deb waiting for me when I returned home. I absolutely love the ornament that she stitched for me. :) It's from this year's JCS ornaments issue. The photo isn't great-- and for the life of me, I couldn't get a decent photo of the whole package. It looks much prettier in person, of course, and the finishing is absolutely perfect. I always marvel at the beautiful finishing on the exchanges that I've been receiving.

I stitched an ornament for Judith. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about the stitching and finishing on this one. Judith is a professional designer and does the most perfect finishing I've ever seen. No pressure! LOL Seriously though, I've seen her finishing in person, and it's amazing. But I think I did okay! The design is Tudor Rose Ornament, by Nostalgic Needle. I found it in the 1999 JCS ornaments issue. (I get a lot of mileage out of those magazines.)

I feel like it has been ages since I've posted. Things have been so hectic lately, with the holidays fast approaching. I hope that everyone in the U.S. had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My dinner for BF and I was terrific-- everything turned out perfectly. It was way too much food for the two of us though, and we're still munching on leftovers. (This evening's offering... turkey casserole. LOL) We had Thanksgiving-- the Sequel-- on Saturday, when we celebrated with some of my family. There were the usual 30 or so people there and lots of fantastic food.

We returned to Reston on Sunday afternoon and had to immediately start getting ready to go to the ballet. BF surprised me with tickets (MONTHS ago) for the Joffrey Ballet's production of The Nutcracker at Kennedy Center. The ballet was wonderful... what we saw of it, anyway. I stupidly decided not to drive (I'm the only one of the two of us who has ANY clue how to get around in the city), but instead tried to navigate for BF. BAAADDDDD idea!!!! I can follow my nose to Kennedy Center, but I could never tell another person how to get there. Add the fact that we were driving around in the dark, and BF has no idea how to drive in DC... and you get a navigational disaster of comic proportions. It wasn't so funny at the time, though. The trip that should have taken a maximum of 30 minutes ended up taking over an hour and a half, and we ended up missing most of the first half. >:( Lesson learned-- all future driving to/from DC will be done by me.

For those of you who are familiar with the area... we ended up in Crystal City. Twice. We also visited Rosslyn on our little adventure. I went to college just a few miles outside DC and was the only one of my friends who had a car on-campus, so I was always the one who drove everywhere. I've never once gotten lost in DC... until now.

Despite the mishap, we're talking about going back in January. We figure if we do it often enough, we may finally get it right. ;)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thanksgiving Exchange for Nancy

Nancy has already received this, so it's now safe for me to share a picture or two. The design is Autumn Thanks, by Sisters & Best Friends. I finished it as a needle/scissor case. The lining fabric may look familiar-- it's the same fabric that I used for Cathy's pillow.

We're in the country for the week. It's very different out here now with all of the leaves off of the trees. The yard is *covered* with them! Fortunately, BF doesn't mind tending to them, so I don't have to worry about it. I'm staying indoors and baking some double chocolate scones. I haven't tried this recipe before, so we'll see how it turns out. ;)

We made the big Thanksgiving grocery run this morning. There isn't much to choose from out here in the way of grocery stores-- just Food Lion and Wal-Mart. It's not at all like the selection that we are used to in the DC area. Mostly, it's okay, until I decide I need an "odd" ingredient for my cooking. Today's wild goose chase was fire roasted peppers. The closest I could come was roasted bell peppers, so I guess that will have to do. Fresh herbs weren't the easiest thing to find, either. I couldn't find them at Food Lion and ended up buying them dried, but later found fresh at Wal-Mart. Guess I'll be doing more of my grocery shopping there, even though I really hate doing that. The store is entirely too large, and I hate buying groceries at the same place where I buy my socks, and vice versa.

I'm going to attempt to fix Thanksgiving dinner this week. It's just BF and me, so if I totally screw it up, it's no big deal. I'm actually a pretty good cook, and I cook a LOT at home, so it shouldn't be any problem. I am trying a couple of new recipes though, just for fun. There was a turkey in Rachel Ray's magazine that looked fantastic, and I just have to know if it's any good.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Beautiful Thanksgiving & Autumn Exchanges

Sorry I've been so quiet lately-- computer time has been limited, and our internet service has been less than cooperative. >:(

Enough of that! Take a look at the wonderful exchanges that I received last week, for the Autumn and Thanksgiving exchanges. Becky had my name for both exchanges, and she really spoiled me. I get in quite a funk at this time of year, and Becky's wonderful package really brightened my week. :)

For the Autumn exchange, Becky stitched this fantastic scissor/needle case. She also made a sweet little pumpkin tape measure cover. I love the little bees and beehive on this piece, because they remind me of Becky each time I see them.

The Thanksgiving part of this package was this amazing box. It's so beautifully stitched and finished. As lovely as it is in this photo, it's so much prettier in real life.

There were all sorts of other goodies in this package along with the stitched gifts. I love these little Halloween tuck pillows and can't wait to stitch something to put in them. Becky included a wonderful assortment of fall-colored threads-- DMC, perle cotton, and silk Mori-- and a gorgeous piece of hand-dyed fabric. There's also a cute little kit, notecards, and some great decorative items.

I feel so spoiled! :)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Back from Bermuda

Our trip to Bermuda went extremely well, other than the fact that I was suffering from a pretty bad head cold the entire time. I took lots of over-the-counter meds while we were away, so it didn't slow me down too much. ;) It's hanging on and I'm still popping pills as I type this.

The Explorer of the Seas was wonderful, as always. We were just on this ship for our Caribbean cruise in September. A couple of things had changed, including the captain and the cruise director. The nicest change was that they had replaced the matresses. That had been my only complaint about our last two cruises, and I'm happy to say that they not only replaced, but also upgraded, the bedding. Fantastic!

We were on the cruise over Halloween, so we got to celebrate cruiseship style. Normally, there are displays of carved fruit, but for this trip, we had pumpkins. The things they can carve never cease to amaze me. There was also a Halloween parade on the Royal Promenade, but I managed to sleep through it. :(

Bermuda was lovely. A little flatter than I generally like in an island, but lush and green, with lots of pastel colored houses. Shopping isn't as cheap as in the Caribbean, but the vendors aren't pushy, so it's a nice trade-off. You shop in stores, with actual price tags, and there is no bargaining as you'd do on many islands. People there are friendly and you feel quite safe walking around, day or evening. Public transportation is available by ferry or bus ($20 for a two-day unlimited pass), so it's quite easy to get around. Scooters are available for rent, but I don't think I'd want to try one with all the cars & buses that are on Bermuda roads. (It's much more "bustling" there than I would have expected.)

Ships usually stop at a port for only a day, arriving in the morning and leaving in the afternoon, but the ship stayed in Bermuda for two days. This left us with plenty of time to explore the island. On the first day, we booked a bus tour through the ship. It started in Hamilton and ended in St. George, with stops at the Botanic Gardens, Aquarium & Zoo, and Fort St. Catherine.

The next time we're in Bermuda, I intend to spend some more time at the Aquarium & Zoo. It's not terribly large, but our visit was rushed because we were on a tour schedule. I did manage to see their pair of Galapagos tortoises. They were even moving around and feeding, which was a real treat to watch. There were also some adorable golden lion tamarins, but they moved around way to quickly to get on camera.

In stitching news, I have nearly finished stitching my Thanksgiving exchange project. I also found out that the autumn exchange that I stitched for Cathy has arrived, so I can safely share a photo of it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Just Two Days...

Until the ship sails for Bermuda. :) That's the good news. The bad news is, I'm sick with some sort of allergy/upper respiratory crud. :( I'm taking some meds for it, in the hope that I'll be feeling better by the time we leave on Sunday morning. In the meantime, I'm trying to get some rest today.

I was able to upload a few pics from the country. The fall leaves are especially lovely this year. Of course, all those pretty leaves make quite a mess of my yard and gutters out there. BF cleaned the gutters this week and managed to snap these photos from the rooftop.

Persian Iris Garden and Spanish Geometrical Sampler are both on hold while I work on various exchange projects. Today I need to assemble my Fall exchange so that it can be mailed tomorrow morning. I'm a little nervous about the finishing on it. I think I've got a pretty good idea, but getting things to turn out the same way as I picture it in my head is sometimes tricky. The finishing is actually pretty simple, but I always get nervous when I am working with a stitched piece... afraid I'll screw it up somehow. It's one thing when it's just fabric, but it's much more worrying when it comes to a piece of needlework.

My current stitching project is for a Thanksgiving exchange. I really like the way it looks so far. I think this will be another exchange that is hard to part with. Isn't that always the case? LOL

I'm signed up for a TON of exchanges in the next couple of months, so I think it will be a while before PIG gets much attention. Three of the exchanges are for Christmas ornaments. I just couldn't pass them up. ;)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Needlework Smalls Exchange Update

I don't have camera software loaded on the computer in the country, so I'm a little behind on posting these pics. Here's the wonderful pinkeep that I received from Judith. Isn't it pretty? She told me it was the first pinkeep that she has made. It's really beautifully finished and looks so pretty in the basket where I keep assorted smalls.

I designed and stitched a needlebook for Nicki in this exchange. I had a slightly backward approach to this project. I started with the lining fabric that the needlebook is pictured on. From there, I chose floss colors (Waterlilies "Harvest" and some coordinating DMC colors) and then I designed the pattern.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Home alone... sort of

I guess it depends on what "home" is. At the moment, I'm still at my place in the country. BF had to return home (northern VA) to tend to his business, but I decided to stay behind. There's nothing that I need to do up there, and we were going to return to the country this weekend anyway. So I've been on my own for a few days.

It has been a pleasant week so far. The weather has been realitively cooperative, except for a cool & rainy Tuesday. Yesterday and today have been around 70 degrees, but the leaves are turning and it is getting cooler. One of my aunts came over yesterday and brought me a red velvet cake. YUM!!! It's really a shame to be alone in a house with a red velvet cake. LOL

Today I did a bit of shopping at the local Wal-Mart. There really isn't much else in the way of shopping options here. There's Food Lion if you want groceries, and Cato if you need some other-than-Wal-Mart clothes, but the nearest shopping mall is about 30 miles away. I can rack up quite a bill at Wal-Mart if I am left unattended. Today's outing resulted in some wonderful fall decorations, as well as some new Christmas goodies that I couldn't resist. Some other goodies hopped into my cart, and it was overflowing before I knew it. Did I mention that I only went there to buy some soda and frozen peas? :)

Of course, I have been doing plenty of stitching (in between chasing dust bunnies and other assorted house-related tasks). I deliberately left PIG at home, so that I could focus on other things. Mostly, I've worked on Spanish Geometrical Sampler. I'm getting very close to a finish on that one! I'd share a pic, but I don't have any camera software installed on this PC. :(

Saturday, October 14, 2006

More Dancing

We drove out to the country yesterday, and I had a happy dance on the way. This time, I finished JBW Designs "French Country IV - Pumpkin". This is another of my (many) Hershey purchases. I also bought the pillow that goes with it, which will make for easy finishing. I was anxious to stitch this one, so that we could enjoy it during the fall season.

I've also completed the stitching on a little Sweetheart Tree kit that I picked up at CATS. Unfortunately, I forgot the bead packet at home, so that Happy Dance will be delayed until the end of the week.

I'm getting behind in my blog reading again. The internet connection out here is S-L-O-W and I lose patience with it pretty quickly. At the moment, I'm busy trying to catch up with the PILES of email that have rolled in the last couple of days. Hope everyone out there in BlogLand is doing well!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Halloween Happy Dance!

Yesterday I finished Be Witchy, by Just Nan. This was a show exclusive that I picked up at CATS. It's tiny-- only 27 x 27 stitches. I started it on Monday and had it completed and framed by Tuesday afternoon. :)

I also had a second happy dance on Tuesday. I can't show it though, it's for the Needlework Smalls exchange on the SBEBB. ;) I'll post pics once it arrives at it's new home.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Perfect Day

It certainly didn't start out that way-- I woke up this morning with an earache/sore throat/stuffy head combo that is quite unpleasant. And did I mention that it's gray and rainy? Even so, the day has shaped up quite nicely... the kind of day that we stitcher's often wish for, but rarely get.

The case of the nasties that I woke up with this morning is nothing serious, just my yearly "change of seasons" nonsense. Afer popping a couple of cold/allergy pills this morning, I propped my feet up and stitched. And stitched. And STITCHED.

It's a work day for BF, so he has been in and out, and generally looking after me. He did the grocery shopping, built a nice fire for me (okay, so it was one of those "fake" logs, but still nice), and even brought home some sort of yummy coffee drink from the local coffee shop. I never had to leave the house. Or my jammies. LOL

I worked on a pretty little thing this morning, but I can't share. It's for the SBEBB Needlework Smalls exchange. I'll have pics once it is received. It's an original design and I'm very happy with the way it is turning out. :) All of the stitching is just about finished. I should have it done and in the mail several days in advance of the October 15 mailing date.

I got a little tired of the exchange project, so I switched to PIG for the afternoon. Part 6 came out on October 1, and I'm still not finished with parts 4 & 5. I'm not too far behind, but I still feel as though I may never catch up. Part 4 has been a giant pain, thanks to some charting errors... and additional errors in the "corrections" that were supplied. Part 5 hasn't been too bad, but it's 100% beads, and I can only stand to do that for so long before I need to stop. My new daylight lamp has made a HUGE difference in the beading on PIG, but I have to sit at a desk while I bead, which is generally uncomfortable.

Here's the last progress pic of the little (big?) PIGgie, taken before I left for Hershey.

At this point, I have most of part 5 done-- only 1/2 of one beaded corner to complete in part 5. Nearly all of the stitching is complete in part 4 as well, but I do need to do a bit more of the specialty stitching. I didn't touch any of that today though. Instead, I cheated and started on part 6. It's just regular stitching, with a bit of backstitch, done in vibrant shades of blue. I couldn't resist, especially with the weather being so gray outside today.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Exchange updates

Look at the lovely Halloween exchange that I received from Shelleen. I just love the design and the cube-it finish suits it perfectly.

And here is what I sent to Marie. It was my very first attempt at a tote bag, and I think it turned out quite nicely. I figured that if I can sew clothes, I can certainly manage the straight lines required for a tote. LOL

I forgot (I think) to post pics of the fob that I stitched for Jo in last month's Specific Finish exchange.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back from CATS

Actually, I've been back since Sunday. I tried to post about it yesterday, but Blogger ate it. :(

This was my first trip to CATS, and I had a fantastic time. I arrived early Wednesday afternoon, even though the show didn't officially start until Thursday evening. I drove up early to meet some of the folks from an online group that I've been part of for many years. Our group was so large (15 or so) that it was difficult to get everyone in the same place at the same time. That really didn't happen very often. Most of the time, we were off in smaller groups. It was great to put faces and voices to names after so many years.

On Thursday afternoon, most of our group went to an LNS in Palmyra. I believe it was called Cross Stitch Corner, but I'm not 100% sure. I did a bit of damage there, buying several kits as well as the new JCS ornament issue, along with the "preview" issue.

I couldn't believe the crowd that was assembled waiting for the doors of CATS to open on Thursday. I think most of the crowd, including me, went straight for the Silver Needle booth to check out the show exclusive from Just Nan. I got the design, as well as the accompanying Whimzi frame, plus the Halloween ort box that was a SN exclusive. I did a bit more shopping that evening before retiring to the stitchers' lounge.

More shopping followed on Friday and Saturday. I hadn't intended to shop quite so much, but I kept seeing things that I "needed." I guess it didn't help that some of the stitchers in our little group are professional-quality enablers. LOL

In addition to meeting some of the members of my email group, I also had the pleasure of meeting some fellow bloggers. They were a fantastic group of ladies and it was terrific to be able to see some of their stitching up close. In between all of the shopping and socializing, I actually did a bit of stitching myself. I even managed to finish a little project-- Drawn Thread's "Little Blackwork".

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

CATS tomorrow!!!

I'm starting to feel like I'm living everywhere but at home these days.  We just returned from the cruise last Sunday and were home only a few days before heading to the country to check on my house out there.  I finally got internet access out there, so maybe I won't fall so far behind in my future blog reading.  We'll see.

Anyway... we got back home yesterday, just in time for me to leave for CATS tomorrow.  I think I'm returning on Sunday.  That is when it ends, isn't it?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I guess when I check in tomorrow I'll be able to find out how many nights I'll be staying.  LOL 

In stitching news, I have a Halloween exchange that is due to be mailed by Sept. 30.  That will go in the mail tomorrow morning before I leave town.  I've had the stitching done for a while, but I hadn't put it together.  I just finished assembling it this evening and am *so* pleased with how it turned out.  I hope the recipient likes it! 

I've fallen a bit behind on Persian Iris Garden, but not too far.  I wish the beaded corners would show up a bit better in the photos.  They're really lovely in person.  If any of you will be at CATS, I'll have it with me and you can see it up close. ;)

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cruise Review

This is probably going to be long... with pictures. Maybe I'll break it down into parts for easier posting (and reading). We'll see how long-winded I get. ;)

Our cruise departed on Friday, September 8 for a 9-night Caribbean trip. The scheduled itenerary was 2 days (Sat/Sun) at sea, followed by stops in St. Thomas, St. Maarten (my personal favorite), San Juan, and Labadee. Then it was another 2 days at sea to come home.

Hurricane something-or-other had other ideas. (Okay, I confess... I never bothered checking any weather reports before we left, and I have no idea what the thing had been named.) It was on a path to Bermuda, where we were NOT going. However, the ship's usual 2-day route to the Caribbean would have passed right through the hurrican's track. So, they had to re-route us, following a route closer to the U.S. coast, which meant that it was going to take 3 days at sea to get to the Carribean rather than the usual 2. It also meant that we would miss our stop in St. Thomas.

More confessions... I'm not crazy about St. Thomas. I think it's highly overrated, especially the shopping. There are some gorgeous beaches, but they're quite crowded and I've seen equally lovely, less crowded beaches on other islands. What I like about St. Thomas is that nearly EVERYONE gets off the ship there, which means I can stay onboard and enjoy a very quiet day by the pool. The extra day at sea suited me just fine. ;)

We left from Cape Liberty Cruise Port (Royal Caribbean's fancy name for "Bayonne, NJ). We did this last year, and I discovered that I really like it, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost-- we can drive rather than flying to the ship. I love flying, but can live without the hassle when I'm going on a cruise. There's only one ship in port at any given time (only 2 sail from there currently), so the cruise terminal isn't nearly as crowded as in other places. Then there's the view of New York City when you are leaving port. BF doesn't get it, but I just love being on deck and seeing the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.

The ship also sails under a bridge as it is leaving New Jersey. The ship is quite large, and it just fits under the bridge. Our captain said last year what the clearance is, but I don't remember. I do know it isn't much, though. I missed this last year, because of dinner and a delayed sailing time, but I made a point to be there for it this time. Cool, huh?

Wow... I've rambled!! And we haven't even gotten to the islands yet. LOL I think I'll stop here and post about our stops later. For now, I'll leave you with a photo of one of the our towel animals. It was a "bad hair day" for me, but I'm wearing one of the outfits I made especially for the cruise, so I thought I'd share. By the time we left, I had finished 4 pairs of pants and 2 tops. (I'll post pics of those later.) Not bad for a rush job! :)