Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Have I Been Up To?

It's a question I frequently ask myself somedays......

Things have been busy here since we got back from our camping trip. DS#1 left for Scout camp the day after we got back from the family camping trip. It was a challenge to unpack, do his laundry, re-pack the things he'd need for his week away and be out the door the next day, but we did manage. It's a bit of a blur, really.

Since DS#2 was going to be without one of his best playmates for the week, we decided to sign him up for a day camp. He really wanted to do a computer camp this year, so he went to this cool one where he made a bunch of neat animated movies, he filmed his own movie in stop frames (a la Wallace and Gromit-style) with Lego and built a really cool Mars rover out of Lego - it was motorized too. He had lots of fun.

As for me - well, I first decided that I wanted to get back to working out again. My knee has started bothering me again and I know it's because I'm not getting enough exercise, so off I went to the gym like a good girl and renewed my expired membership. A few hours on treadmill and bike later and I'm a bit sore around the edges, but feeling good that I'm making an effort. Maybe I can drop some of the extra poundage I've picked up lately too. If I could just stay out of the Fudgee-o's.... *sigh*

Seeing as the gym wasn't taking up my *entire* day, I finally started on a little project that's been sitting in my garage for a few months (what can I say, sometimes it takes me a while to get going!).... DH and I were lucky enough to receive this old filing cabinet for free from a neighbour of my in-laws - they were throwing it out. Now I can understand why - it's really, really ugly but I just knew I'd think of something to do with it. So, into the garage it went. I spent some time web-surfing and looking for ideas of just what to do with the darned thing and how to go about it properly....

Here it is just as I was beginning its transformation:

I took this just after I finished sanding the exterior. I pulled out all the drawers because I had another plan for them:

You can see better in this picture just how butt-ugly-brown this cabinet was. It was really ugly. (as an aside, why do they make filing cabinets so gosh-darned ugly? Would a little colour and style *kill* them????)

So, step one involved these two handy tools:

Ah, spray primer, how do I love thee? Plus my little trigger-thingy. I discovered many years ago that spraying something without the trigger-thingy (that's the technical term, dontchya know?) causes much elbow pain. Trigger-thingy prevents it entirely. Worth every penny.

Anyhoo, I now had a cabinet that looks like this:

Still pretty ugly, but it couldn't get much worse....... It took me a can and a half of spray primer to get it to this point.....

Next up was the real paint - but oh, what colour to choose? Well, this cabinet is going to live in the basement office - a rather dim and dreary place overall, being that it lacks real windows and has a really bad light in it (DH picked it out without my knowledge or approval - I hate it!)...... Our office furniture is very dark (almost black) and the walls are a non-descript beige colour (again chosen my DH without me - dratted man!), but I do have a bright red drawer system for holding my office supplies. I really like the splash of red - brightens up the place immesurably. So, I picked this can of paint:

Actually I picked this can of paint 4 times. Red doesn't cover that well. Ask me how I know. Go on. You know you want to. Thankfully Home Depot is close by.

And you know what else I learned? If you don't cover yourself properly, you end up looking like you've got a sunburn. Really. Try it. Sunburn without the pain. It'll also make people look at you funny. I can't be entirely sure that's not a normal occurrence in my case, but you never know.....

So, cabinet painted, sunburned-look accomplished and 3 blistered-fingers later, I decided it was time to work on the cabinet drawer fronts. I really didn't want to paint them (take a wild guess at to why!) and I wanted to break up all the red. More web-surfing and inspiration strikes again - fabric! And, one of my ultra-favorite items, Super 77 spray adhesive (now having admitted publicly that I really like this product, it will be promptly discontinued and will vanish from all stores on the planet....):

I fell in love with this fabric and what's better - it was on SALE! So, $20 later I still have enough left to play with for something else.

So, after removing as much hardware as possible from the drawer fronts (okay, I could only take off the handles....), I created a paper template of the front of the drawer - cutting out holes for the latch and the spot where you can insert a label on the drawer (does is have a name?). I transferred the holes to the fabric, cut out holes and sprayed enough glue to last a few lifetimes. We won't talk about just how many hours it took to do this, okay? Nor will we talk about how many times I glued my fingers together, nor about why there is a lone flip-flop in the middle of the garage floor and why it won't move.

With a little help from DH to wrestle the drawers back into the cabinet frame, I was finally able to see the finished product all together:

Ain't it purty? Just funky enough to make it interesting.... I'm quite pleased with the whole thing, although my spray-paint job isn't the best (it's quite streaky in spots). Hopefully with the crappy lighting in the basement, no one will notice???

My in-laws are coming tomorrow (both DS' are off having a mini-holiday with their grandparents), so hopefully DH and my FIL and wrestle the thing down into the basement where it can be filled with all kinds of handy things.

As for stitching (what? This is a stitching blog? Who'd a thunk it?), I have been working away at a model, so I've nothing to show. Model work can be slow sometimes, especially when there is a fair bit of back-and-forth about the design. I'm lucky to be able to have so much input to the design itself and the chart layout and instructions. Hopefully at the end of the day it'll equate into a superior project for both the designer and stitcher.

Off to tidy up a bit after the spray-paint extravaganza!


 Sunday, August 16, 2009

Well, it wasn't much of an adventure....

The Traveling Project has returned after another adventure out in the wild. Sadly, this trip didn't really agree with the project overly much. We departed home last Saturday and drove into rain. Lots and lots of rain. It alternately poured and sprinkled, poured and sprinkled the whole way to the campground. It let up for just long enough at the gate for the project to agree to get out and have its picture taken:

After diving back into the van, it began raining again. We were lucky to manage this one shot. So, we set up a tent in the rain. I don't recommend it, especially if your tent (like ours) isn't water-repellant until after the fly has been put on. The project sat in the van and giggled at us putting up a tent in the rain.

The next day the rain had quit but it got really, really, really humid. Like air-thick-enough-to-chew humid. The project didn't want me to stitch on it because I was sweaty and sticky. We went to the beach, but the project then refused to come out because it was too windy and there was too much sand flying around. It wasn't too keen on my sunscreen either.

After dinner back at the campsite, all hell broke loose as the heavens opened yet again. Except this time the rain was set to 'deluge' rather than just 'rain'. Within half an hour, our site was under 5" of water. Don't believe me? Look at this:

That's Bryce and one of my nephews standing in the water shortly after the rain quit. It was over our ankles with lots of floating debris in it. Thankfully the tent did stay dry or well mostly dry - one corner got relatively wet, but at least that night I didn't have to sleep in a puddle. The project remained in the van where it was nice and dry. It reportedly laughed at the silly people wading through the water, but it's unconfirmed.

Thankfully from that point on the weather improved and it was sunny and warm for the rest of our week. We spent most of it either at the beach or riding our bikes or playing at something or other. The kids had a great time.
Numbered List
We rented a hydro-bike:

We practiced(?) canoe-tipping:

We played with some sparklers - or well, at least the kids did:

The project pretty much refused to come out - after the storm it felt it was too muddy and then when it was warm, it felt it was too warm. Picky project.

Still, the rest of us had fun, even if it meant packing up a filthy tent and groundsheet on the last day. Everything is unpacked, washed and put away - thanks mostly to the fact that DS#1 had to be packed and ready for a week-long camping trip with his Scout troupe the day after we returned home!

My favourite shot over the week-long camping trip is of Bryce - I caught him at a quiet moment and couldn't resist taking this picture:

Hopefully our trip to the cottage in a couple of weeks will provide a more interesting adventure for the project!


 Thursday, August 06, 2009

13 years ago today.....

This little person entered our world - with no little ceremony.....

It's hard to contemplate just how much change has happened in the intervening years - but here's the proof:

He's not so little anymore (as I noticed when I bought him Men's size 8 shoes just two days ago!), but he's still a sweetheart. It's so wonderful to watch the person he's becoming, to watch him find his way, to watch him try out who he'll be once he's a man. He makes me proud just by breathing. He makes me prouder when I see how good of a big brother he is, when he lets me hug him still (as long as we're not in public!), when he remembers to take a shower without my having to nag.... :-)

Now if I could just convince him to clean up his room!

Happy Birthday Cameron! Welcome to becoming a teenager! Know how deeply you are loved.


 Saturday, August 01, 2009

Some questions to make you think....

I found this over on Musings from a Three Bedroom Ranch. Definitely worth answering, if only so I try to verbalize my love of this art form....

1)Why do you stitch?

Because it is my craft, my art, my way of expressing my need to be creative, even if I'm only copying patterns someone else made. And maybe too, because I can't live happily without it.

You see, I can't draw to save my life (I've often said I struggle to draw stick people!). I've tried and the results are best left lining the litter box than being seen by humans. I don't have that ability to look at items in three dimensions and turn that into something in two dimensions. It has frequently left me with pictures in my head that have no way of getting out into the real world. Discovering cross-stitch gave me the ability to create art simply by counting. For a girl with a Mathematics degree, this was a powerful thing. Counting I could do, art I could not. Cross-stitch bridged that gap for me.

2) On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being least important and 10 being most important what is your cross stitch passion level?

I think that this varies from day to day and mood to mood. Generally though, I'd say I range between 8 and 11. I am passionate about this art form and would be heartbroken to see it die. However, I can live for a day or two without a needle in my hand. I'm not entirely happy about it, but I can make do if I have to. I'm happier with a needle in my hand, by far.

3)If you're only option for cross stitch supplies and patterns happened to be the major chain craft stores would you just walk away from the little X? Kiss it goodbye?

I don't think I could. Putting aside the fact that I have a large enough stash to keep me busy for a few lifetimes right now, even if my only option were a chain store, I would still be there buying something. I'd have to. After all, it was a kit from a chain store that got me started in this craft to begin with. I'd go back there if it was all I had.

4)Also are you so passionate about cross stitch that if indeed your only option was the major chain craft stores, would that inspire you to create your own cross stitch pieces because you have to stitch and you've stitched your way through the whole of Dimensions catalog--because you must stitch and the thought of life without a relationship with the little X leaves you feeling empty?

I'd have to say maybe to this one. Having no ability to draw would definitely be a drawback to my designing. However, I do think that I could come up with some band samplers that would make me happy and I could play with lots of neat specialty stitches. My other side hobby is rescuing books about needlework from thrift shops. Sometime I'll have to take a picture of some of my rescues. They'd be my resource for inspiration.

5)Finally what do the cross stitch magazines on the market offer you? Do they relate to you as a cross stitcher? Do you look at them and think to yourself, who do they think buys this magazine? I guess what I'm asking, when you see the current cross stitch magazines do they make you feel like they know their readers or do you find it's more of the same? What could they do to be ambassadors for the art of cross stitch other than putting a sampler on the cover with "F-U" on it? What are we missing on a PR level that could change the opinion of cross stitch itself?

Some magazines appeal and some don't. I am a regular purchaser of JCS and of late I regularly pick up the British Cross-stitcher as I enjoy the variety of projects there. I enjoy flipping through SANQ at the LNS and I have enjoyed having a subscription to The Gift of Stitching in the past (and am having major wanna-resubscribe-issues - drat that budget!). Other magazines on the market might be worth a flip through, but often do leave me wondering why I'd want them or why I'd ever stitch from them. Simple designs, basic layouts, themes I'm not into and repetitions by the same designer in every issue just don't grab me. I do wonder about a magazine when I can flip through any issue and pick out who designed each project just by the picture. And I still don't want to stitch the pieces, I just know exactly who designed it.

It's hard to know how to change things though. The 'bigger named' designers don't appear in magazines all that often (although Mirabilia/Nora Corbett is appearing regularly in CS&N it seems although only about 1/4 of her designs grab me....) and maybe that is to their detriment and the detriment of the craft. They are as big as they are because they did appear in magazines at one time or another and caught folks' attention. Maybe some of them need to go back to having some magazine designs to catch people's eye as they walk by. Maybe the magazines themselves need to be available in more places besides the LNS and specialty bookstore. I can rarely find JCS anywhere but the bookstore nowadays. I did enjoy picking it up in Wal-Mart whilst I was getting other household necessities. It's almost never there anymore.

6) Do you do other crafts and if so what are they and why do they pull you away from cross stitch?

I am a bit of an intrepid knitter and crocheter, but they really don't get much of my attention in the grand scheme of things (I just took 3 bags of wool to the local charity shop and I hadn't touched it in at least 5 or 6 years....). I crochet because it was one of the earliest crafts my grandmother taught me and so it occasionally pops up in my hands. I knit because of the same grandmother although I didn't knit for many, many years and only started knitting again in the last couple of years. Although I don't knit much beyond the odd scarf and socks.

As for why they pull me away from cross-stitch - well, I think I tend to pick up a knitting or crocheting project when my needlework is driving me round the bend. Sometimes I need the boring repetitiveness of knitting or crochet after a project or two that might have too many colour changes or tweeding or that I know there is a huge error in and I haven't the patience to figure it out just then. It's a way to still be creative but without the huge committment of a needlework project. My crochet and knit projects tend to be small and fast to finish. Needlework - not so much.... :-)

So there are my thoughts on it. What are yours?


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