Random things….

 Thursday, September 16, 2010

I’ve been thinking about what to blog about for a few days and I really couldn’t cobble together any one thing that was even marginally interesting – so we’re going the route of randomness.  It’s all I’ve got….


Random thing #1:  As I’ve been wandering through my house, I’ve been discovering things that we picked up while we were on holiday.  It’s been fun re-discovering some things….


I forgot that I bought these things at NN……  (only because it’s not stuff I use for stitching, per se):


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The license plate cover lives on my van now (DH grabbed it and put it on my van before I could say ‘please’…).  I drink my morning coffee out of my NN mug every morning.  They were the silly souvenirs that I bought, but I still like them.


I’ve already had someone stop and point out my license plate cover to their companion….  :-)


Random Thing #2:  I bought this too (but not at NN – it was either in Banff or Jasper):



It’s two 28g (or 217 yards) balls of Pima Cotton.  It’s the prettiest colour and I’d classify it as laceweight, although I’m not very knowledgeable about these things.  What am I going to do with it?  Darned if I know.  Suggestions welcome.  Remember, I’m a hapless knitter at best.


Random Thing #3:  In Seattle we began what we didn’t realize was going to become a hunt across the US.  We finally found what I was after somewhere in Idaho, I think….



Yes, I jumped on the Kindle train.  I was very hesitant to order one on-line because I hadn’t actually seen or touched one.  I wasn’t really sure if I’d like it (‘cos I do love real books and real paper…..).  So, starting in Seattle and working our way east, we stopped at every flippin’ Target trying to find one.  It because a scavenger hunt like we’ve never known.  Jill, our GPS, was very good at finding them all for us too.  I bought the 2nd gen Kindle because while I wanted the newest one, it wasn’t going to be available until after we returned home to Canada.  And I really didn’t want to have to pay duty if I could avoid it.


As for what I think of it – all I can say is Oh.  My.  Gawd.  How did I live without it?  I so enjoy reading on my Kindle.  I am a voracious reader (and a very fast reader too – a 300-page book takes me an evening to consume if the story is good) and I always struggle with bringing enough reading material when we’re spending a week at the cottage or camping with the family or whatnot.  The Kindle solves that problem for me.  Love it, love it, love it.


Now I need one of these to stitch for it…..


Random Thing #4:  There’s a super-nice giveaway going on over at needleworker not in paradise.  Do stop by, say ‘happy blogiversary’ and maybe you’ll win a prize!


Work is starting to ramp up for me – but just a little bit.  So far I’ve got no work until January, but it’s early days yet.  I expect things to get busy in another couple of weeks.  In the meantime I can get myself organized and check out my equipment and whatnot.  I got some great new resources to add to one of my programs, so I need to unpack everything I got and figure out how I’m going to add all these new things in.  It’ll be great!


But in the meantime, I’ve got patterns to proofread, models to stitch and swimming lessons and open houses to attend tonight.  Thankfully dinner will be provided tonight!


And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…..

 Friday, September 10, 2010

Well, now that our trip is over, the kids are back in school and work hasn’t really started up for me just yet, I’m finally getting some time to get back to stitching.


I have actually finished something recently!  I actually started this while we were driving home from Seattle and then I finished it up shortly after we got home:




This is the Brittercrip ornament from the JCS ornament preview issue.  I totally fell in love with the little kitty hugging the candy cane.  I stitched it in DMC, except for the dark green leaves – I used the recommended fibre for that.  I’ve temporarily misplaced the magazine or I’d check.  The linen is just a piece from my stash – not sure which one, but it’s a 28-count.


I also participated in an exchange over at the Rotation Stitchers BB.  I had such a hard time deciding what to stitch.  I actually started this at least twice before I decided I was happy with it.  Here’s what I stitched:



And I made it into this:




This was my very first floss tag attempt.  It turned out pretty good, I think, although in hindsight I can think of a few dozen things I should have done differently.  As for the stitching itself, this is actually a block from Needle Delights Originals ‘Strawberry Shortcake’.  I chose one block from the design (the middle row, right side) and changed every single colour.  I used a mix of DMC, NN, Dinky Dyes and Vikki Clayton Silks.  I really enjoyed stitching it.  I’m pretty sure my exchange partner liked it too.


I also included some Canadian goodies:



Of course, there had to be a hockey stick in there….  I also put in a few postcards from the area (although I only live near Toronto) and a pretty calendar with some pictures of various parts of Canada.


Sometime while I was getting everything ready to send to my partner, I think my brain took leave of my body or something….  I had a couple other goodies set aside to include in the package and I was sure they were there…….  Then after my partner opened her package and posted pictures of what I had sent I started wondering about the *other* things…..  Which led me to wonder and have a quick dig in my crafty-area…..  Which had me discover that I am a dolt.  I forgot to include some things (picture me smacking myself forcefully on the head)…  So, I’m back off to the post office later today.  Sometimes I’m sure I’d lose my head if it weren’t screwed on….  *sigh*


I also received my exchange yesterday.  It’s so jaw-droppingly beautiful that I can’t get over it!  Here’s what I received:


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Isn’t it stunning?????  I have been in love with Temari Balls *forever*.  I’ve bought all kinds of instructional books about how to make them, but I’ve never had the courage to try it myself.  When Nordic Needle started selling pre-wrapped Maris, I was anxious to buy one and try it out, so I did buy two of them when I was there.  They’re still sitting in the package, but eventually I’ll get to them.  In the meantime I have the most *GORGEOUS* one sitting in my house.  I’m in heaven.


Besides stitching (I’ve now got 2 models demanding my attention!), I started (and finished) another super-quick project…  Some time ago I tripped over this article about making a project keeper.  It’s really intended for a sewing project, but I thought I could adapt it a bit for what I wanted…  It looked simple enough that even a sewing-impaired person like me should be able to manage it…  So, with 1m (or about 3ft) of oilcloth (purchased for less than $10), I managed to make a total of 4 large (they’re about 11” x 13”) and 5 small (6” x 10”) project keepers.  I’m already using one of the small ones to hold all the fibres for one of the models I’m stitching.  The large ones are going to be for my ornament projects.  I want to kit up a year’s worth of ornaments or so (whether they be Halloween or Christmas).  I’m going to put one ‘kit’ into each pouch.  It’s large enough to hold everything I need, including a q-snap or hoop if I want it.   Then they’ll be my grab-and-go projects.  But first I need to go back to the store and buy more oilcloth.  Here’s what one of the large pouches looks like:



I don’t care about seeing inside these pouches since I’m not really going to choose which thing I stitch – I’ll just grab a pouch and stitch whatever is in it.  I used stick-on velcro to make an easy closure.  I probably should have used sew-on velcro, but I didn’t have any in the house and I did have lots of the stick-on stuff.


My next batch of keepers will probably be smaller in size than these ones.  I’m sure I’ll find a use for them regardless.  Pretty nifty for someone so sewing-impaired, isn’t it?  I’m impressed with myself anyway…  :-)


Well, the needle is calling, so I’d better get to work!


(and as a total aside – why did it take me *so* long to discover Live Writer??? It makes blogging so much easier – I must have been blogging under a rock before this….)


From Victoria to Home

 Thursday, September 09, 2010

Let’s see – I last left us in Victoria…..


After I got my turn to shop in the Needlework shop we found, it was time to continue on our journey.  We hopped on a (very, very rough) ferry to Port Angeles, crossing the US border into Washington.  We continued on to Seattle and stayed with another of DH’s cousins.  The next morning we were up early and after finding the mecca that is Starbucks (I don’t drink much coffee, but I do like one in the morning to get me moving), we began another urban hiking tour. (As a total aside – the coffee in Starbucks in Seattle tasted MILES better than what I get at Starbucks at home – still perplexed at the difference – water?  beans? baristas?  *shrug*)


We first stopped at Seattle’s library:



It is one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever been in.  The architecture is just neat and the interior is all colour-coded – there’s a red floor, an acid green floor, a fluorescent yellow floor….  We rode the escalators all the way to the 10th floor.


Then we hiked over to the older part of Seattle – Pioneer town and went on the Underground tour.  It was a very entertaining tour that had us hiking under large portions of Seattle while we were told why it existed (it has to do with them levelling Seattle to get it high enough above sea level to not flood…) and some of its more interesting uses in times past:



When the tour finishes, you end up here:



This portico is used as a bus stop – and it opened when the World Fair was held in Seattle – and I’ve gone and forgotten what year that was – 1920s?


After we finished our tour, we headed down to the piers to wander around some of the shops there.  We found a great shop Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on Pier 54.  It has tons of really neat and strange displays, including two mummies.  Besides selling some odd and neat things, it’s a bit like a museum (scroll through the slideshow on the homepage to see some of the things inside the store).  DS#2 found this when we walked in:



A real one-armed bandit….  :-)


Naturally we continued on to Pike’s Place.  Doesn’t every tourist go there?


We were lucky enough to see the guys who toss fish around:



They’ll only do it if someone actually *buys* a fish.  I was tempted (because the fish all looked so utterly AMAZING), but it never would have made it to our home – we still had a weeks worth of driving ahead of us!


We wandered around the market for a little while, but we still had to make another stop to another Seattle landmark:



The Space Needle!


We rode up to the top and enjoyed the views of Seattle.  I have to admit that I was a little non-plussed with the Space Needle, but then again, I live within a 1/2 hour of the CN Tower…..  I’m spoiled!


We spent one more night in Seattle, but the next morning it was time to begin our journey home.  I have to say that the drive home wasn’t nearly as interesting as the drive out to the west coast – but that was likely because we had to hurry home.  It took us 2 & 1/2 weeks to get to the west coast – and we had to make it home in a week!


Anyway, we started driving…..  We drove through Idaho: (pardon the blurry shot – very windy!)


We found a hotel just outside of Yellowstone Park.  It was definitely one of the more interesting places we stayed.  Here’s a picture of the door to our hotel room:



That would be John Wayne on the door.  Unsure of just what that meant , we opened the door to find this:



We were staying in the John Wayne theme room…..  It was, well, odd.  And the bathroom had pink (???!!???) towels in it.  I never thought John Wayne was a pansy, but what do I know?  The sign in the bathroom was funny too though – it claimed that the toilet paper was just like John Wayne – it was rough, it was tough and it wouldn’t take cr&! off anyone….  :-)


Upon leaving our room, we discovered these two dudes:


DSC04640Yes, those are life-sized.  So much so that every time I left the room, I kept thinking I was about to run into some people.  I apologised to them.   Multiple times.  (I never said I was bright….)


We stopped at the entrance to Yellowstone for the project’s beauty shot:



And drove on into the park a short distance to do a short look around – it was late in the day by then, so we didn’t have tons of time before darkness was going to fall….


We found an enormous herd of elk (a rough count came up with at least 35 animals!) right out front of one of the hotels in the park:


They actually have their own security people – they kept moving the people further away from the animals whenever the elk moved to graze elsewhere.  Apparently they don’t need to cut the grass with a lawnmower – the elk do the job quite handily…..


We continued on to see some of the terraces:



The colours and tones and textures of these formations was amazing.  DS#1 took so many pictures of these things as he was fascinated with the textures.  They were super neat to look at.


The next morning we again drove into Yellowstone but this time continued through the park and stopped at:




Old Faithful


It erupts every 90 minutes (give or take 15 minutes) and it’s quite the thing to see.  I was surprised at the force behind its eruption.  They keep people pretty far away from it for safety reasons.  It shot off amazingly high….  Definitely worth seeing.


We then drove until some ungodly hour of the night (I think it was past 2AM before we made it to our hotel!)….


We were on our way to………..


DSC04970But before going to visit the giant heads, we first stopped in Deadwood…..  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many casinos in one place – beyond what I’ve seen in Las Vegas.  But, they did do a couple of wild west re-enactments.  DH got roped into helping out with a re-enactment of the shooting of Wild Bill Hickock….  He played the bartender:



Here he is with Wild Bill and the guy who shot him (whose name is eluding me right now – sorry!):




We left Deadwood and moved on to our hotel for the night.


The next day, we wanted to do some caving, so we found ourselves at Wind Cave.  While it was disappointing that we couldn’t roam the caves at our will – it was a guided tour, we still had an enjoyable time there:



The place is full of formations like this:




It’s called boxwork and is very fragile.  They actually ask you on the tour to not touch anything as the oil from your hands wrecks the boxwork.  The shapes and textures that it takes on are simply amazing.


Once we were out of the cave, we continued on to this landmark:



Now, being Canadian, I have to admit that Mount Rushmore didn’t hold much lure for me.  But, understanding how important of a landmark it is for Americans, I wanted to see just what it was all about….


Well, all I can say is WOW!


DSC05088Pictures just can’t show the awesome size and scale of this monument.  It’s amazing to see in person.  I was awestruck by how challenging it had to have been to carve this monument.  What a sight!


The next couple of days were spent driving.  And driving.  And driving.  And then, just to add some variety – we drove some more.  I’m not sure we even stopped for pictures.  We eventually ended up in Detroit, Michigan.  I remember, by that point, being very tired.  I think we got to our hotel in the wee hours again……


We spent our last full day visiting the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.    I had no idea there was such an amazing attraction this close to our home.  Granted, it’s not a quick hours drive away (more like 6 or 7 hours), but it’s still close enough that I’d consider going just for the weekend…..


Greenfield village is a historic town re-creation (for fellow Torontonians – it’s a bit like Black Creek Pioneer Village), but it’s a bit more focused on the Ford family.  Staff are dressed in historical costumes and there’s lots of neat things to look at.  In touring Henry Ford’s home, I naturally spied a little bit of needlework:


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But, alas, yet again, no one could tell me anything about the pieces.  The one on the left is a perforated paper piece similar to what I’ve seen at Black Creek.  The one on the right did appear to be done on a very rough linen.


We went for a ride in a Model T:


DSC05133And both DS’ got to make their own brass candlesticks:


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They each only large enough to hold a birthday candle, but the boys just loved getting to work the lathe (they’re standing in front of the lathe). 


We continued on into the Henry Ford museum and saw so many old and historically important cars (even the car that JFK was shot in!).  The funniest vehicle we saw was this one:



And right next to it, we got to make DS#2 into a hot dog:


DSC05234(he told us just how to ‘dress’ him – the relish *had* to be on top, apparently…).


After we left the Henry Ford museum, we crossed the border back into Canada and drove home.  We didn’t make it in the front door until after 11pm, but it was wonderful to be home and sleep in our own beds.


It was the most amazing holiday ever.  I can’t believe all the things we saw and did.  DH is working his way through the over 3,000 pictures and trying to cull it down to a more reasonable number for printing.


If you’ve read all the tales of our summer adventures, I thank you for putting up with it all.  I’ll now be returning to more ‘normal’ blogging…  I’ve got a finish to share and I just received the most stunning exchange.  But the camera cable and camera aren’t living on the same plane right now, so once I locate them, I’ll get some more stitchy-related pictures.


In the meantime, how about a couple more pics  of the NN stash I bought?DSC02955DSC02961


Just some basics – stretcher bars and some neat needle slides…  A couple of maris because one day I will try Temari!  And a round Kumihimo plate with some thread drops to make working with Kumihimo braids easier.


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The hummingbird is actually for holding balls of pearl cotton.  It was just so pretty that it had to come home with me.  I also bought a scissor fob and thread picker and some canvas pegs (which are in use already and are very handy!)….




And two of the new needleminders from Kelmscott.  Also in use already.  Aren’t they the prettiest things?


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