Sunday, March 31, 2013

Theme-a-licious March Madness Wrap Up

I think this update might be a little anticlimactic. I've done pretty well showing you what I've drawn from the Sparkly Compote of Decree as the month has gone along. I may get to work on one more thing tonight, but then I'll be heads-down trying to finish my sock before the next club yarn ships! I had to spend one of my theme days trying to finish my ornament. Well, it's still not 3-D, but at least all the stitching's done.

Friday after I finished the ornament, I did get to do some work on another project pulled out of the SCOD.

I love the way this project is going...I substituted some colors, because I HATE Silk Mori. I had to use that nasty stuff on the roof of my ornament, and it just reinforced how much I detest it. But now I'm using the lovely Soie Cristale, which stitches like a dream.

Overall, March Madness went pretty well for me. I had a small finish, a WIP I was able to let go, and another project I decided wasn't actually started, so it doesn't belong in the SCOD after all. I had put it in there because the class practice piece wasn't done...I decided that's too loose a definition of a WIP for me. =)

Now it's time for...
Amazon April
Dip your needle into the vast swath of fabric dedicated to your BIGGEST projects!

I'm always sad to see March Madness go, but a little relieved to get back to some (relatively) more focused stitching. Of course, this is me, so I won't just be working on one huge project. I have some catching up to do with Toccata I, my EGA's group project. I also want to work on Autumn Queen again. I'll pick out at least one other big project...what will it be? Convent's Herbal Garden? Les Rubans? Peacock Tapestry? Something huge I start??? What would be your vote? Stay tuned. =)

Ornament Theme
Santa or elves

This one is going to be easy for me...I'm going to finish my Lapland Santa (finally!)

So how did you end up your month of madness? How are you going to tackle Amazon April? Please add your link below (to your wrap up post), and visit some other Themers if you can (everyone loves comments and encouragement!) Our next post will be on the 15th of April, when we'll check in with Amazon April!

1. Serendipitous Jo
2. Susan Low
3. Katri
4. Karoline
5. Paula
6. Gillie
7. Tiki Stitches
8. Topcho
9. Katie
10. Sherrie

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Let's Just Pretend It's Wednesday

Well, I'm a little late, but I finished my March ornament.
At least, I finished the stitching. This is a Victoria Sampler ornament from the 2008 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue. The only change I made was the did say, "Merry Christmas from our house to yours," but there's no way I'm giving this thing away!

The assembly will require me to cut a lot of straight lines on teeny pieces of mat board or interfacing. Yeaaahhhh...I'll get right on that!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


That was the sound of my blogiversary flying right by! Did you hear it pass yesterday?? I always think around this time, "When exactly IS my blogiversary? I need to look it up so I don't miss it again like last year." (Actually, I sort of remembered last year, but the year before I completely missed it.) It's not like I have it posted RIGHT ON THE SIDE OF MY BLOG, right?? Oh, wait....

So! Six years! In shameless imitation of Shebafudge, I'm going to give away a little something that fits with the traditional anniversary gifts for the sixth...namely, Iron (US) and Sugar (UK). Sugar will be really, really easy, but I'm going to have to think about iron. Leave me a comment if you'd like to be entered, and I'll do a drawing for a lucky winner (or winners...who knows??) I'll close the comments on April 14th, sometime in the evening.

Good luck!

Edited to add: The giveaway is now closed...I will announce a winner soon!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Geekend That Was, 3/24 (Why So Late? Edition)

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Why so late? Am I talking about this update, or Spring??

Both. Yesterday was my annual eye exam, where my eyes get dilated, so I can't be on the computer. And on the way there, I saw some snow flurries. SNOW! This is not very Spring-like, March. Two weekends ago it was 75 (F), and yesterday the high was 50 (F). We are not amused.

My ophthalmologist, however, WAS amused when I told him what I'd done the night before so that I could spend my non-computer time cooking:
Yep. I wrote out my recipe super-large so I wouldn't strain my eyes reading the directions. The ophthalmologist tells me only an engineer would come up with this. Michael asked if wielding knives and working with open flames was really the best course of action when you can't see well, but I managed not to cut off or burn anything important. This recipe is absolutely amazing, but took me FOREVER, AND I had made the pastry for the tops the day before!
I also, as you can see, had some issues with the pastry dropping off the sides of my bowls. I'm not sure what happened, but I think the bowls may be to blame. Do I have an excuse to buy some real ovenproof bowls now? (In other words, Michael, if you're reading this, do you ever want me to make these again? ;) Regardless, this pastry was SO YUMMY. And it smelled AWESOME while it was baking (I think it was the sour cream). The only changes I made to the recipe were to leave out the celery (because I detest cooked celery) and switch the white beans to black-eyed peas, because I am an idiot and when an ingredient list goes to the next page in a cookbook, I apparently can't see it. My eyes weren't even dilated then.

I had much more baking success over the weekend when I made the second recipe from this month's Cookie A Sock Club, fig bars.
I dislike store-bought fig newtons, so I didn't hold out much hope for these. I changed my mind a little bit while cooking the filling. It smelled great! Cinnamon and red wine will do that, I guess.
The crust was just a little bit crisp, and perfect, when they came out of the oven. The next day, it was a little softer, but the flavors had melded a little better, so they're still great.
Of course, these took so long, I had to make some of my favorite cookies in the meantime. =)
Here's the recipe in case you missed it.

And lest you think this is turning into a cooking blog (ha! not a chance unless I'm suddenly unemployed), here is what the Sparkly Compote of Decree has been offering up for March Madness...on Friday, it was a class I took a loooong time ago (notice a theme?), Tenerife Lace Wheel.
That plastic canvas is just used to hold the warp don't do any stitching on it and it will be cut off once the lace is done. The warp and foundation were all done during the class, as well as one "leg" of the Greek wall design. It's kind of addicting!
I really could finish this off with not much work...hmmm, have I said that before?

On Sunday, the SCOD offered up another blank slip! (It likes me, it really likes me!) I did the most responsible thing I could think of with my SCOD-granted freedom and worked on the only remaining stitching on Chocolat (yet another class piece).
I really thought I'd get more done than this, but those cookies took a while!

Obviously, last night I could not work on much of anything, although I did knit on my Honey Cowl that's been languishing. I didn't need to be able to see to knit on it! Hmmm...I hope I don't find any major mistakes later....

Forget blind taste tests, give blind baking a try!

If you can't see a mistake, is it really there?

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Yeah, sure, it snowed today (not where I live, but just north of me). Doesn't matter. It's SPRING!! The trees are all blooming, the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing (to make some honey just for me....)

Plus, I adore Daylight Saving Time. I don't know why we aren't always on Daylight Saving Time. I get home from work between 7 and 7:30. The longer it's lighter, the better! Mornings are for staying in bed and drinking tea, IMHO. =)

The Sparkly Compote of Decree was in a Springy mood on the first day of Spring as well, as it bequeathed me with this:
This is the very first Mystery that Chatelaine did! It's actually now entitled Summer Afternoon. I started it when it was a mystery, on this shocking color of linen.

Two days before, the SCOD gave me White as Snow! This was a class I took probably almost 15 years before, and I don't believe I've touched it since. In fact, I could barely bring myself to touch it this time. After a few backstitches, I put it down. Life's too short to work on a project you're not in love with.

If you, however, are interested in a sparkly pulled thread kit, or learning pulled thread, this might be the thing for you. Leave a comment and I'll send you the kit (it includes linen, Kreinik pearl braid and perle cotton). If more than one person wants it, say by Sunday afternoon, I'll do a drawing. I'm willing to ship internationally.

Edited to add: The giveaway is closed! I'll be sending the kit to Angela as soon as I get her address. Thank you for entering!

There's a giveaway there in all that blather. Leave a comment if you'd like the kit for the last project shown.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

LA Trip Day 1 - The Getty Center

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I'm going to try and blog about our trip to Los Angeles as I sort through our pictures. I'll try to inflict only 20 or so on you all per post. Day 1 is easy because it was only a half day! =) We arrived at LAX around noon, so we just had time to see one thing before driving out to Palm Springs where we were spending the next two days. Michael, Vacation Planner Extraordinaire, picked The Getty as our destination.
The Getty is more than a museum; it's an entire complex up on a hill that overlooks the city and the ocean (if you can make it out through the smog...although we had a very clear day, I was shocked at how short the visible horizon was, especially as the day progressed towards sunset).
You ride from the parking deck to the top of the hill in a driverless monorail-type electric shuttle. As you progress through the collections, you move from building to building, and walk through various courtyards.

This is looking towards the city over the succulent garden. We did not walk all the way out there due to time and temperature was cold and windy!
The complex is a fascinating conglomeration of museum, event space, and parks. We also had the best museum food ever for lunch!

All the rooms were well-lit with natural light (except where that would have been damaging to the pieces displayed).

I won't bore you with lots of pictures of artwork, but here's a sample.
These are some irises by Van Gogh, and it was great to be able to stand really close and appreciate the brushstrokes that went into creating this masterpiece. The Getty has an excellent collection of representative works by many famous and talented artists.

This hot cocoa stand saved my life, I think. As the sun set, it got even colder, and we wanted to explore the garden area before heading to Palm Springs.

There was a very cool hedge maze (though you'd have had to take a swim to navigate it!) which would be gorgeous once it was fully in bloom.

These "umbrella trees" were metal structures with flowering vines growing up and over them. They shaded a number of benches.

From the sunken garden, there was a wonderfully twisty path that wound back and forth over an artificial stream populated with awesome rocks. At every bend, there was a colorful collection of plants.

At the "head" of the stream, the water was cascading down the inside of this recessed half-vase shape. The water originated from the plaza above, through a hole and down into this alcove.

Everywhere you were surrounded by great shapes, from the buildings to the trees around them.

With the sunset, it was time for us to shuffle off to Palm Springs! We expected an hour and a half drive, but it ended up being WAY longer due to horrific traffic. It was Saturday, for heaven's sake! LA drivers really like their brakes. Atlanta drivers like to brake suddenly; LA drivers brake CONSTANTLY (even while going uphill). I was pretty well terrified by the time we made it to the dessert proper. I was also exhausted (still getting over the sinus infection, and also HELLO THREE HOUR TIME DIFFERENCE) and fell asleep before I saw the field of windmills on the way. No worries; there was another day of beautiful sunshine to come!

Day one of the trip, and I'm already properly cultured. =)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Geekend That Was, 3/17 (IHSW? Or just allergies?)

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Last time I checked in with Theme-a-licious progress, I said I didn't want to talk about the last project I'd picked out of the Sparkly Compote of Decree. This was the project....
It's a stumpwork sewing bird...pretty cool, right? Well, the first thing I had to do was rip out the detached buttonhole I had done (half of the large pincushion), because--fortunately, I suppose--my detached buttonhole has improved in fourteen years (GAH!), and what was there looked downright gnarly (and not in the excellent surfer way).

Once that was cut out, I did some nice relaxing satin stitch. And then came this cord:
It is supposed to be stitched on this 18-count raw linen (which is exactly like burlap, by the way) with HALF CROSS STITCHES. Take a look again at how thick it is. Yeah. Not working so well. Add that to the fact that in this kit, there is only about a yard of this stuff, and I am either going to substitute a Kreinik braid (#4!) or just couch this stuff down. I did some more painful ripping the next morning, and now I'm thinking I'm going to start the whole project over on a nicer linen. Something that's not burlap.

So that wasn't a very auspicious start to International Hermit and Stitch Weekend. Friday there was a lot of knitting on the sock, especially while we finally broke down and watched the second part of Breaking Dawn. It was much more pleasant to knit than look at that extremely weird CGI baby. SO. FREAKY LOOKING. I'm not a huge Twilight fan, but I did want to see how they ended the whole thing. I may have put down the knitting and sat gape-mouthed during the final battle scene.

Saturday we headed to the Gardens again, because I knew the bulbs would be in full bloom and this would be our last chance to see them.
Plus it was a gorgeous sunny day! I think the high was 75 (F)! Perfect.

The bees were out in full force, hanging out in the rosemary.

Of course, I could not resist taking a few more orchid pictures, especially since they put out some new ones. The yellow daffodil-like ones were replaced with these multi-colored beauties:

The shoes are actually starting to grow on me. And check out the tree...I didn't even notice last month that the branches are covered with lace!

More new orchids...

I think these were there before, actually, but I missed them while looking at others nearby.

That night we went to see Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club at the Georgia Ensemble Theater with Michael's parents. It was entertaining enough, although there was some confusing double-casting (is that the murderer? Or just an actor playing another role?) and THE WORST French accent I have ever heard. I leaned over to Michael and whispered, "She is from Nouvelle Zhersey." Before the show we ate at Swallow at the Hollow, a barbecue restaurant which is the only BBQ place I've ever been to where I liked all three sauces (sweet, mustard-based and vinegar). They also had slap-down amazing mac and cheese. Creeeeeamy.

After we got home, I gave some brief needle service to March Madness with the SCOD's command to work on this project:

Sunday the Georgia Marathoners ran/jogged/walked/limped past our window, and I can only assume that watching them was what drained us completely (certainly it wasn't the pretty flowers on the trees with their pollen-producing ways). We were going to go see the American Craft Council Show, but we were just exhausted. We managed a couple errands before an evening church service, and I only managed a little more sock knitting.

It still counts as IHSW if I have some progress pictures, right? Even if the hermitting was nearly non-existent?

Er...hey, look! Orchid pictures!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Theme-a-licious March Madness Check-in

Sorry this update is so late! I even told Michael I needed to do it last night, but then I apparently got temporary amnesia from the time I cooked dinner until 11:30pm when we were getting ready for bed!

I'm not going to lie...I love March Madness. I love it so much that I've actually had a few "even" days when I'm supposed to be knitting on my socks that I greatly regret not pulling something from the Sparkly Compote of Decree!

If you missed the first three March Madness projects I picked, you can view them here.

So first, let's look at how I'm doing with the socks! I've finished the first and cast on for the second. This crappy picture was taken just before I Kitchenered the toe, since I was losing the light.

It's really difficult to take a good picture of socks on yourself, you know? I'm thinking I should have made the smaller size so you could see the lace better, but I really love these socks. And this yarn is so squooshy that I love wearing it.

Here's something you don't see every March Madness: a finish!

This pin was so close to being finished that I went ahead and completed it the next day and put it in its setting. The stitching isn't brilliant, but the thing is so small, and hopefully no one will get up in my personal space enough to see its flaws!

When we last checked in with the SCOD, it had issued forth the coveted blank slip, allowing me to choose my project. Would you believe that the next thing it coughed out was ANOTHER blank slip?? I used this one to work on Dancer, Dasher's next of kin.

It's starting to look roughly like a deer, no? No...probably not!

Next, the SCOD told me to work on a "stash bag tag"...and let's not talk about how long this has been a WIP, mmmkay?

Hint: It's been like 12 years

I don't want to talk about what the SCOD gave to me last night was kind of a tragedy. But I think it will have a happy ending. OMIGOSH, CAN YOU STAND THE SUSPENSE???

Is it total Madness at your place so far this month, or are you just a little mad? Please add your link below (to your check-in post), and visit some other Themers if you can (everyone loves comments and encouragement!) Our next post will be on the 31st of March, when we'll wrap up March Madness!

1. Lynda @ The Auld Grey Mare
2. Just A Little Stitchin'
3. Karen - My Stitchy Ramblings
4. Jo figuring out how her iPad works!
5. Gillie who did it!
6. Yana Hanim
7. Karoline
8. Katie

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Alas and Alack! (or, Google Reader's going away)

Google Reader's pulling the plug on July 1st. This is a huge blow to me because it's how I keep up with RSS feeds. So far, I have found the best alternative (for me) is feedly. If you sign up before July 1st with your Google account, it will automatically import your feed (blog) list, and they say that when Google Reader goes dark, they will continue to function "seamlessly" by transitioning you to feedly Normandy. Well, here's hoping!!

Meanwhile, I see that a lot of you are switching over to Bloglovin. So here's how you can follow me there:
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

PS--Happy Pi Day! =D

Edited to add: Bloglovin can be used as a reader, too...I just liked the interface better on feedly. But that's my personal preference. I think either will work great. I don't know if the Blogger dashboard will be going away or not...or what they'll do with any non-Blogger subscriptions you added there. It seems weird to me that they'd leave that in place and do away with Reader, but if they haven't said it's going away, I'd assume it will continue. If I find out anything else, I'll let you all know!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Orchid Daze 2013

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I am in the process of going through all the Disney/LA photos (I was doing pretty well marking favorites, but then I kind of lost the will to live when I hit the Small World pictures...I had the camera on auto-advance to try and get at least a few good ones, so those account for probably 800 of the 1300...I jest. =) The recap posts will be coming soon, but until then, let me distract you with beautiful orchids!

Orchid Daze started February 3rd at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and it goes until April 14th, so you have plenty of time to go check it out. Bonus: If you go soon, you'll also see all the tulips blooming outside! The theme this year is "Surreal Beauty", so they have styled the various displays after the work of different surrealist artists.
First, up, Salvador Dali...
The quote is kind of difficult to read; it's "Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision."
The whole entry hallway is mirrored. No melting clocks, though. =) This section had the colors that popped the most, like this...
...and this...
...and this!
This section also has some glass cases with jungle frogs in them (always there). The frogs were in high visibility mode rather than hiding beneath leaves...I think they felt the competition from the extra orchids!
This shot was made possible by the flexible spot focus feature of my lovely camera. =)

In the main orchid house, I'm not exactly sure who the inspirational artist was...the doors leading in had artwork by Giorgio de Chirico, but I don't find a lot of women's shoes in his work.
I understand they were working with the Surrealism theme (Orchids in Shoes! CRAZY!), but this is my least favorite center lacks the impact of last year's hanging gardens. It's not the fact that it relies upon a gimmick that I dislike, it's that the orchids get lost in clever-clever land and you can't get close enough to appreciate the individual blooms they used to fill the shoes.

But you're not hear to read my pseudo-intellectual blather critique. You're here to see gorgeous orchids! The orchids in here were well-lit with sunshiny day we had. More pops of color...
Can I get a dress in this lovely purple??
Some really fantastic shapes, as well...
These orchids were like a foreshadowing of daffodils (remember this was the beginning of February)...
The large central space between greenhouses was an homage to Renee Magritte.
It was really "raining" from under that suspended umbrella on the pole.
It's raining orchids! Hallelujah! =)

I loved the density of these rosy-pink blooms. They reminded me of gladiolas (only prettier!)
It was kind of hilarious to watch how many people took pictures of themselves in front of that cloudy background. Like they'd never been outside and were in some kind of museum of beautiful weather. =)

Some of Magritte's common symbols were a male figure in a bowler hat, or just a bowler hat, so I loved what they did here in the entryway to the High Elevation House.
I think this part of the collection, with the mountain-dwelling orchids, had some of the most surreal shapes!
The constant misting was getting a little annoying, but it made for great back lit pictures!
OK, this last one just looks alien!

You have until April 14th to go enjoy these beauties in person! Go soon to also enjoy Atlanta Blooms! where the garden is swimming in just-bloomed bulbs.

Old Geek-outs