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.