Sunday, March 1, 2015

Looking Back at February 2015

February has been a wonderful month for snow.  For the first time in the 12 years that I have lived here, we had what I consider true winter weather--winter the way it was when I was a child in Asheville.  We had four storm systems that built on top of each other, leaving me with about 7 inches of snow by the time it was finished.  Despite a power outage and ten straight days of being "snowed in", I've enjoyed it tremendously.  

Thanks to two large novels, my book consumption was down this month.  I read four, the best of which was the chunky Bone Clocks (2014) by David Mitchell.  It wasn't as good as his last (Cloud Atlas) and not a style that I can recommend to everyone, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I listened to six audio books, with the best also being the longest: a reread of Mansfield Park (1814) by Jane Austen.  I do think this is one of her best with an excellent plot, simple and yet complex, and with much sly wit.  It has moved up in ranks to my second favorite of Austen's novels (Persuasion being my firm first favorite).  

I didn't accomplish as much cross-stitching this month as last.  I began the February portion of the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's Story Book Sampler, but didn't finish it.  Their designs are enchanting, and I want to stitch every one that I see.  When I start stitching, though, I am put off by the tiny, tedious parts.  I have started and stopped more of their designs than I have finished, which displeases me immensely. 

I did finish this Lizzie Kate design ("Let There Be Peace"), and look forward to framing it.  The fabric is actually beige-ish, but photographed rather pink.  The floss colors are true-to-life, though.  It's the first time I've seen the phrase, which I like immensely, in such a cheerful format.

Early in the month, I completed "Holy and Ivy" by Country Cottage Needleworks.  The photo doesn't do justice to the soft colors.  This may be one I want out all year, not just at Christmas!

Finished this gorgeous pattern tonight. (Holly and Ivy by Country Cottage Needlework.)

I did manage at least one photo per week in February.  This is my favorite photo from this month:

I'll be continuing on with my Lenten discipline, which is to pause for prayer once every (waking) hour.  This is my second year attempting this, and I'm ashamed at how difficult it is at times.

I'll be changing out my mantle decor, replacing the sweet reds and pinks with cheerful greens and golds for Saint Patrick's.

I will hopefully adjust to Bryan's new schedule (second shift and non-weekend days off) after a few more weeks, and I think I'll find I have much more time to accomplish the organizational projects that have been put off for weeks/months/years.

One thing I really want for March is to uncover that passion for photography that I seem to have lost over the winter months.

I am thankful for:
  • the snow
  • Bryan's safety on the icy roads
  • Lent
  • Pink Lady apples
  • a good pumpkin muffin recipe (here)
  • Wii Fit and the Walk It Out game for encouraging me to exercise nearly every day 
  • kitties that nap with me

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Looking Back on January

January has been rather successful for me.  I've begun walking again, and only missed a few days this month. I've cooked regularly, and done okay on cleaning.  (Always room for improvement.)  I've also started working on being a better (snail mail) correspondent.

I changed my yearly photograph goal from one-photo-a-day to one per week of a camera-taken "real" photo.  That is a more realistic goal for my life right now.  I've managed that, but have been slack about uploading them.  I seem to do more iPhone snaps on my Instagram than I do real photos on my Flickr account.   I'm trying not to beat up on myself about that, or remind myself of the hundreds of photo props I've got just a-waitin' to be used. . .

Anyway. . . this is my favorite photo from this month:

I read eight books and listened to eight audio books, with publication dates ranging from 1865 to 2011.  The best book of the month was Charles Todd's An Impartial Witness; I discovered this series last month and am thoroughly enjoying it.  I started Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series, too; I like that she writes in the same manner that Austen herself did.  (As an aside, but still book related, I've been reading Mom's blog lately and recommend it to my fellow bibliophiles: Beyond Sixty.)

I completed two cross stitch projects this month, nearly completed a third, and began a yearly stitch-along. Imagine if I keep up this pace all year!

This is the January block of the Story Time Sampler by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.

"God Bless America" by Lizzie Kate.  Red doesn't photograph well, and the navy looks like black, so suffice it to say, it looks better in person.

I love this piece so much!  It is "Winter Friends" by The Snowflower Diaries.  This is the third time I have stitched her designs, and I've been delighted every time.

I am in the process of stitching "Holly and Ivy" by Country Cottage Needleworks.  Just need to do the border.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Looking Back on 2014

Looking back, 2014 was a rather successful year.
  • Each month, I changed out my mantle and put up a seasonal/holiday theme.  I didn't take photos to show most months, so I can't share them.  Generally, I was pleased with each month and look forward to continuing it this year.
  • I listened to 118 audio books (no exaggeration, I keep a list) and read 40 books.
    My favorite of this year was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrelle Zevin.  I highly recommend it to everyone.  After that my other favorites were (in no particular order):  The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery; Chasing the Rose by Andrea di Robilant; The Magicians by Lev Grossman; The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (a reread); Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell; Portobello by Ruth Rendell; A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (a reread); Child of Storm by H. Rider Haggard;    I also reread the entire Anne of Green Gables series, and plan to do the same this year.
  • I cooked regularly, and from scratch and didn't have any major kitchen catastrophes.  I think my bean soup was my favorite.  It's so easy, too.  Saute garlic and onions in olive oil.  Add one can of petite diced tomatoes, two small bouillon cubes, two cans of white beans (I use one can of Navy and one of Great Northern), one tablespoon of parsley, one tablespoon of Italian herb blend, and one cup of dry pasta.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer for about twenty minutes.  It is delish!
    edit: I forgot to mention the two cans of water it needs so it can actually be soup. . . 
  • I didn't make my goal of one photo a day, but I nearly did.  I just had a couple of months where I wasn't motivated for every day.  This year, I'm backing down my goal to at least one photo per week. I need a more practical, attainable goal.

Favorite photos from the year:
Happy Kitties


In the Moonlight


Lady Beetle

A Raptor Has the Doctor!

The Doctor and his TARDIS

Lego Legolas

A Mad Man with a Box

Kokeshi and Fuji-san

Chimenea Flames

Washi Tapec

Chocolate Ice Cream


Happy Thanksgiving

Merry Christmas!

Dragon's Hoard

Monday, December 22, 2014

December Cross Stitching

I completed four small pieces this month and I wanted to show them off!

The first two are from the Merry Miniatures II pattern by JBW Designs.  I bought the first set of those patterns last week, and can't wait to stitch those two hearts as well!  I used buttons from my stash, and they don't quite match the color of the "noel".  I'm contemplating taking out the noel and restitching it in a color closer to the button color.

 This one is Snow by Heart in Hand.  The button cost as much as the pattern, but it was worth it!

 This lovely piece is Joyous Noel by Bent Creek.  I changed up it up just a bit from the original pattern.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Won!

I entered four photos into the fair photography contest, and two of them placed!  It was my first time ever entering anything, so I was stunned and delighted!

This one took second place (!!) in the "plant world, other" category:

This one took first place (!!!) in the "humorous" category:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cross Stitch Update

Here are the projects I finished in August, with one exception (which needs another photo).  I plan to do another post soon on my current works-in-progress, which are many!

I decorated my mantle with a nautical theme for August.  This is "The Guardians of the Sea", a free pattern by The Little Stitcher.  Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of it before I had framed it, so there is a glare.  It is a small pattern that fits nicely in a 4 x 4 frame.  I love the colors!

 The September theme is "apples", and I am still busily stitching apple patterns.  It is another freebie, this time from Rainbow Gallery.  This was my first time making satin stitches!

 This cutie is a mini-pattern from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery, called the Bee Keeper.  I loved stitching it, and am trying to think of a creative way to frame it for the kitchen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I am going to have a nautical theme for my August mantle.  I have a ship cross-stitched from about 25 years ago, but wanted at least one more piece.  I found this simple but striking free pattern and was immediately struck by it.

I decided to use variegated floss for the first time. I did okay with it, but not great.  I guess it's a good first effort. . .  I definitely want to use it again, but will need to see if I can find some tutorials on how to stitch with it properly.

When I started on my second row of chevrons tonight, I noticed that I am somehow off a few stitches--just enough to make my chevrons uneven.  I know it can be fixed, but I'm just too disappointed to deal with it.  I'll put it aside and either find the problem later, restart it after the piece I just began, or just give it up all together.

You can't tell from this photo, but the cloth is pale blue.