Monthly Archives: December 2007

We’re baaccckkkk….

After a wonderful Christmas with my family, we are back in the cold north country.  I did decide that this Christmas was a fine way to do snow. We sat in 40 degree Virginia and listened to the reports of a winter storm back home. By the time we actually got here last night the walks and drive had been shoveled, the roads had been plowed and all is pristine and lovely. It has started snowing again as I type. Big, fluffy flakes that look as though they belong in a postcard. I will snap some photos after I download the photos from Christmas.

One thing I do know, for the first year in many, I’m going to have to get out on my skis. I used to love to cross country ski and this year I have both snow and a bit of stamina. I just have to buy some wax and the lake awaits.

It was a great holiday with family. The flights were good and mostly on time (although our luggage outbound arrived about 10 hours after we did) .  It was our first Christmas in my brother’s new home…which is lovely. My mom has an apartment (2+ bedrooms) on the lower level, so we stayed with her and really enjoyed ourselves.  We were the lucky recipients of wonderful hospitality. In fact, we were downright spoiled!

How was Christmas? Well as was mentioned at the first it was a wonderful holiday. We missed Dad, of course, and because of his absence, it was a different kind of celebration. We were all mindful that this year, while we sat around the tree remembering him, he celebrated his very first Christmas in the presence of his Lord.  That thought alone was enough to bring smiles through the tears. After dinner and gifts on Christmas Eve we had the wonderful good fortune of attending services at Truro Church in Fairfax County. The sanctuary was beautifully decorated and lit, the music was ABSOLUTELY incredible  and the good news of the message was given clearly and joyfully. I felt so…blessed just to be there with those I loved most in the world.

Giftwise it was a wonderful year. I had not asked for much in the way of needlework supplies, simply because I have so much already, but I got a book about Chinese needlework that I will be sharing in an upcoming post. Again that word blessed comes to mind.

Now thoughts turn to the next year. 2008…what will it hold? In my little corner of the world I pray it will hold health, peace and laughter for my family and yours. Now it’s off to work for me…have a wonderful day!

Blessings,

Julie

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Christmas Eve

It is the very first hour of Christmas Eve 2007. It’s hard to believe that…as I sit here in sweater weather…it is storming back home. I just watched the Vikings game (GACK!) and the pictures of the snow in the Minneapolis area were just lovely…but it has certainly caused problems for travelers. I hope it clears up nicely…and soon. The upside? We finally have a white Christmas…at least in the Midwest.

This is a short post to say one thing….Merry Christmas to dear friends far and wide. You are all a great blessing to me and I pray you will have a wonderful, peaceful and laughter-filled holiday with those you hold most dear.

Love and Blessings,
Julie

A personal post…

–I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day. –Abraham Lincoln


(Before you start to read, be aware that, as titled, this post is largely personal and perhaps even the tiniest bit mopey. It speaks of feelings and of my personal beliefs. Join me if you choose…and welcome to my world :-)))

It’s hard to believe it’s just a few more days until Christmas. We will be with my family this year and are looking forward to that reunion. My mom e-mailed today and is busy preparing goodies, like fruit soup and hot air, in anticipation of time together. Are we spoiled or what?

It will be wonderful to spend time with my brother, my new sister, my niece and nephew, mom and even some of our extended family…for loved ones are the second greatest gift of Christmas. I look forward to times of laughter (and some tears), worship and yes, even some handwork. My new sister (actually sister-in law…but I consider that distinction meaningless!) knits. Isn’t that cool??? Together we are going to try to find our way through the mine field of knit one purl two.

Even with all the beauty of the season and the fun preparations, my heart is still heavy. It’s been a long year and, while there many, many reasons to be thankful, I am still trying to find the joy that Christmas often brings. Losses…one very, very recent, leave a great emptiness that used to be filled with two that I cherished. One of those is, I’m convinced, sharing his first Christmas with His Savior and that thought does bring a smile, even through the sorrow. I am sure that Heaven will never be quite the same now that Dad is there. 🙂

But, even though I’m struggling a bit, today I listened to a song that reminded me of the joy that cannot be shaken by circumstance. I am trying to keep my spirit centered on the blessing offered to me by these words by Don Francisco and the promise he writes of:

The center of the ages, the Lord talks with a girl
and by the words He speaks He gives a Savior to the world.
The time grows to its fullness and Mary's Son is born.
The promise's fulfillment, lies asleep now in her arms.

He didn't come to terrify, to judge or condescend
to call us all His servants, but to lift us as His friends.
To save us all from Satan's power, to reign at His right hand,
Once for all eternity, God became a man.

Today the God of Majesty was given to the Earth
A gift of such magnificence we can never plum its worth.
The rudeness of the setting just ignites the Jewel's fire.
A pearl beyond the greatest price, the joy of man's desire.

What a gift!

I also was lifted by wonderful e-mails from the stitching sisters. We are planning a gathering shortly after the first of year. A long weekend filled with laughter and our group’s celebration of Christmas. I do love these ladies: Paula, Susan, Janet and Theresa…thank you for the light you are in my life!

Needlework wise, I’m trying to think through a rotation for 2008 and working like mad to get my MNA submission finished. I need to have it complete and submitted by the end of the year. I have also been working on a special wedding sampler. I will post a photo tomorrow at the end of my stitching…so you can see a bit more than a little green blob. 🙂

What else is on the agenda for tomorrow? A haircut, an eyebrow wax, packing and sending our e-Christmas greeting to loved ones near and far. Our snail mail greeting may not get finished in time, so it will be more in the way of a New Year’s missive this year. I also have a gift or two to pick up. We will be doing some shopping after we go east, simply because it’s not easy to carry much on a flight.

I hope this note finds everyone well and surrounded by those you love most.

Blessings,

Julie



									

Christmas Meme

A few of my personal holiday traditions and thoughts. 🙂 (I am sorry. There are some formatting issues here that I can’t seem to fix. :-((((

  1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
      Wrapping paper
  2. Real tree or artificial?

      Artificial. I love real trees, but our townhome complex doesn’t allow them because of the fire hazard they present. I do love the way the artificial trees hold ornaments without sagging!

  3. When do you put up the tree?
      This year, just after Thanksgiving. We travel for the holiday, so we like time to enjoy the decorations.
  4. When do you take the tree down?

      Just after New Year.

  5. Do you like egg nog?

      Love it…but really, really prefer homemade. I have a great recipe. Adding a little nutmeg and cognac is a nice treat too!

  6. Favorite gift received as a child?

      My stereo system. What great parents, huh? To give a child on the brink of adolescence in the era of rock ‘n roll electronics with a VOLUME control…brave, very brave. I’d like to think they didn’t regret that gift. 🙂

  7. Do you have a nativity scene?

      Several. We have one from India, a gift from when my brother was posted in New Delhi and another one that nestles in the branches of our tree. And we even have one that’s from the Holy Land, made, I believe, of olive wood that hangs as an ornament on aforementioned tree. I love them, because for me, that is the ‘reason’ for the season.

  8. Hardest person to buy for?

      My Father-in-Law…all he ever asks for is socks! However, he loves black licorice. That helps. 🙂

  9. Easiest person to buy for?
      My sister-in-law, Paula. Why? Because she stitches! 🙂
  10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?

      Both. I send an e-mail greeting to all our friends far and near and that happens most every year. I also like to send a snail mail card or letter, when I can get them done. I need to get better at my timing. Often we send out a Christmas/New Year’s and…sigh…sometimes an Easter letter. 🙂

  11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

      A gift is never a bad thing and is always a gesture of thoughtfulness, so this question is hard to answer. The only time I recall being disappointed is, as a very young girl, when I’d get clothes instead of a particular toy. Now? Bring on the clothes. 🙂

  12. Favorite Christmas movie?
      A Christmas Carol-I’m not even too particular about which version. I just love the story.
  13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

      All year, but I have to admit we are still at it in mid-December. We tend to pick up things that scream a certain person’s name all year and then fill in before the holidays. Some years more gets done earlier than other years. Stitched gifts, when given, are usually the product of many months of work.

  14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
      I don’t believe so. Paper, yes, presents, no.
  15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas?

      Swedish Fruit Soup, potato sausage and Rosettes. Was I trained well or what? 🙂

    16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?

Clear and lots of them!

17. Favorite Christmas song?

Tie: Silent Night, O Holy Night and Do You See What I See?

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Travel…just about every year. My family is in the DC metro area and DH’s family lives about 3 hours away here in Minnesota. While I love being with family, I would love to have an occasional Christmas at my home.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

‘You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen….but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?’ That would be Rudolph. 🙂

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?

Neither: A blown glass spire with a gold dusted stars.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

With my family, Christmas Eve, with Dan’s, Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

I have to be careful not to get on my soapbox here, but hand’s down, I HATE the focus on ‘stuff’. (if that idea bothers you then quit reading here! 🙂

The pressure to buy, buy, buy, turns generally nice people into stressed, cranky strangers and often leads to financial hardship for families in the months ahead. I love to get gifts for children…to see their faces light up. But in my opinion, we have gone beyond the point of sense. For me this is not what Christmas is about. Christmas is about the birth of a Saviour, it’s about the gifts and the blessings that are ours because of this one Great Gift and it’s about family, friends, sharing our blessings with the less fortunate and about keeping cherished traditions alive.

The gift of a loved one’s presence is the gift, not the presents. I think about that statement and I think about my dad. His is the presence I will miss most this year! ((((((((((HUGS, Daddy))))))))))))))))

Okay. I’m done now. I know there are many who don’t share my beliefs and I am not trying to force my opinions on anyone. But this blog is about me and my stitching and my little corner of the world, so I write about what I feel and believe.

May all of you find wonderful blessings in the things you cherish at this time of year.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?

Handmade ornaments, Santa’s and ornaments that speak of the birth of Christ (and not in that order :-).

24. Favorite thing for Christmas dinner?

Gotta go with Turkey and Ham. MMMMMMM! Yes, we usually do both and yes, it’s always a treat!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

In one word? Peace. I know, I know…it’s one of those overused wishes, sometimes so overused that it borders on sounding trite. But I wish all those I know and love, friends I have not yet met and for me and my house personally;  peace in our hearts, peace in our families, peace in our corners of the world, peace in our nations.

I think this community of stitchers…brought together by a love of the beauty created by the threaded needle is a wonderful start. We are so many…we are from different environments…we have different educational, economic and social backgrounds and different values…yet there is love and encouragement among us and we even find joy in our differences.

May these ties that bind that overcome discord, one day, be extended to our world.

Blessings,

Julie

A Final Finish for 2007

Well, finally a stitching post. I have so much I want to do here, including adding the rest of my library to its dedicated page, updating both my Wish List and the WtR areas, but what I really love is sharing my needlework. I just wish there’d been more to report this year.

First I want to share a fairly new WIP…a canvas piece I was working on from the end of October to the middle of November. The technique is stitching over a painted ground and the canvas is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Santa by Shelly Tribbeys. The stitch and fiber guide are credited to Gwendolyn Lander. Both are wonderful.

I don’t often work painted canvases, simply because I love counted thread work, but this project is a joy to stitch. It’s hard to see, but I have the riverboat, the cathedral, part of Santa’s face and most of the waterfall done. The fibers include some fun metallics, wool, and cotton floss.

Shelly Tribbeys Minneapolis-St. Paul Santa

I love this canvas because it portrays a lot of the wonderful landmarks of this city I’ve called home for many years, including the IDS tower (tallest structure between Chicago and San Francisco-Phillip Johnson 1973, and famous for its use as a backdrop in the opening scenes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show), the Spoon and Cherry sculpture, Minnehaha Falls and of course the trolley car.

So far the stitches haven’t been terribly challenging…a lot of tent stitch and basketweave, with some satin and cashmere thrown in for good measure. I had fun working on this…and plan to have it done for next Christmas.

Now onto my finish. I started this Prairie Schooler Santa a couple of years ago. I plan to do several and turn them into pillows. Or…have someone turn them into pillows for me if my sewing machine and I aren’t on speaking terms. 🙂 This is the 2002 Santa:

Prairie Schooler Santa 2002

Isn’t he cute? 🙂 He’s done on 7 count Klostern with Pearl Cotton #3. I did change a few colors, because I wanted a more burgundy red for his coat.

For those of you who are curious, I most often work with my fabic stretched on q-snaps or a scroll frame. I use my Lowry floor stand so I can stitch two handed. (my left hand beneath the fabric and my right on top.) To start a thread, I most often use an in-line waste knot and to end, I simply weave the thread through the stitches on the back and clip close to the fabric.

I am feeling good about getting one more piece finished in a year that hasn’t been a good one for productive stitching.

Apart from needlework, tomorrow we are having a BIG party here. It is DH’s 50th birthday party and I am looking forward to a wonderful gathering of the friends and family that have so blessed our lives. Monday is his birthday, but we are staying in to watch the Vikings play the Bears (um…go VIKES!). I plan to make one of his favorite dinners and just enjoy some down time with him.

It is getting on to bedtime for me. So in closing, I hope each of you is having a wonderful weekend filled the all the best blessings of this Holy and peaceful season.

Goodnight,

Julie

Another non-stitching post…

I just thought I’d share a few photos of my house this holiday season. It looks like Christmas and now it smells like Christmas. Last night I had some of the family over and we made Krumkake and Rosettes…it still smells good in here. 🙂

Living room with tree aglowOur treeTable set for hoiidays

and finally our Indian (subcontinent) Nativity set:

dscf1121.jpg

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Blessings,

Julie

Happy Dance time…

well, um…no, I haven’t finished anything. Not exactly. Finishing something would imply I’ve done some needlework. Unhappily, that’s not the case. However, just picture good ole Snoopy dog, wavin’ his arms (paws?) in the air, feet a-tappin’…and that will give you a good picture of what I was doing two days ago. Why?

Because it’s arrived!

What’s arrived, you may ask…

This!!!

Monica Ferris ‘Knitting Bones’

Monica’s new book is out…this is the tenth or eleventh (I can’t remember which) in the series of Betsy Devonshire novels. How could I possibly resist stories where a needleworker and knitter is the protagonist?

I wait eagerly for her books to come out, buy them, spend 2-3 hours in a fun, easy read, then have to wait a whole ‘nother year. My only wish? I wish Monica Ferris (her pen name) would write a little faster. 🙂

‘Knitting Bones’ is a fun addition to the series. Lots of Betsy, Jill and Godwin time, plus a fun sub-plot about a crow. (yes, I said a crow :-))) No mention of Morrie or Irene, but a surprise appearance is made by a member of the Monday bunch who’s been um…involuntarily…absent for a number of years.

For those who just want to spend a couple of hours enjoying a fictional world set in a suburb of Minneapolis, this is a fine choice. I really enjoyed it.

Blessings,

Julie

Just some reasons I’m grateful…

For the first time in several years I had the energy…and the desire to decorate my house for Christmas! I love the tree, the candles…everything.

I haven’t been in the hospital for going on six months.

DH, his love, support and sense of humor!

We have a roof over our head, gainful employment and wonderful families.

Health!

Friends that are….well, amazing! We are so thankful for each one.

Stash. Should I say that? I suppose that’s just slightly materialistic…but I do love to play with my stash…I just need to get better at actually stitching it!

The beautiful snow frosting my window. It’s so pretty right now!

Well…I’m off to work, but I wish each of you some unexpected blessings as you go through your day.

Julie

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

NOPE!! IT IS NOT!!! I am in complete and utter denial. Where did September, October or for that matter November go? It cannot possibly be December. Can it?

It is? Oh…my. Can you say PANIC??????!!!!!!!!

Okay. Deep breath. Since the calendar doesn’t lie, it’s time to look at my year in stitching. Did I come close to accomplishing ANY of my goals? Not really. But I did stitch. I did finish a couple of things. I did get a start on my first Chatelaine Mystery…and am just about through with part 2. I did start this blog and have been writing here fairly regularly up until recently. I am doing better on controlling my stash acquisition…another plus. So…all in all…I’d give myself about C+…the plus being for effort and good intentions.

So what about 2008? Specifically:

1. I will post at least twice a week here…and share photos. (To which end I have to find batteries for my digital camera 🙂

2. I would like to have at least one finish a month and I would like to complete Mystery X by the end of next year.

3. I will add no more than twelve new projects to my stash. Which means that I will have to buy VERY carefully. I know I will be asking for Chatelaine’s Alpine Seasons for Christmas, and that will count as one of the twelve.

4. I will continue work on my Master Needlework Artist designation through ANG. I have a major submission the middle of this month which should give me an idea of the timetable for the rest of the work and research I have to complete.

5. I want to finish part one of my Master Craftsman in Counted Thread through EGA…or at least complete my design and complete more than 50% of the stitching.

6. I want to spend lots of time with the ‘sisters’ and focus more on actually stitching and less on acquisition.

7. Since I do have a lovely sewing machine, I want to learn to do some finishing. There are many, many fine tutorials and books out there and I am teachable…I think. 🙂

8. As always, I plan to attend several retreats. I believe these are great ways of expanding needlework horizons and skills as well as getting to know wonderful people.

9. I want to plan and stick to a rotation. I have a wonderful friend who is a champion at actually finishing things. She shared an idea or two with me and I will give it a try (since I have what feels like thousands of works in progress…sigh….)

10. I will continue to go through my stash, sell or give away some things I know I will never stitch (On that note: I have updated my Stash for Sale). This is the reason I really need to think twice about my ‘needs’ vs. my wants.

I also need to get back on track for my WTR (Walk to Rivendell…) Since Dad passed away I’ve been very lax about recording anything here, even when I have walked. So I think I may just give myself 20 miles and and move on from there. Posting here really does help to keep me motivated. And exercise and diet are two very important things as I continue in my recovery! Can you tell I feel a bit like a couch potato right now??? Grrrr…..

Now, back to stitching. In November, I had the good fortune to take two Catherine Theron classes; Examplar IV and the Quaker Sewing Case. I highly recommend Catherine as a teacher and I will post pics here as soon as I find the aforementioned batteries for the aforementioned digital camera. The best part (even better than two beautiful projects added to my stash!) of that weekend was a lot of time with the sisterhood!

I also worked a bit on a needlepoint piece…the Minneapolis-St. Paul Santa and continued work on knitting my scarf.

Apart from that, I’ve stitched very little. I did fight a bug over Thanksgiving that was bent on giving me a very upset tummy. Can you imagine? At Thanksgiving???? NOT FAIR! But that has passed (no pun intended :-)) and I’m feeling myself again. Can somebody please pass the chocolate? 🙂

For December, my only needlework goal is to complete and send my next submittal for the MNA program. Apart from that I will concentrate on giving DH a great 50th birthday party and of course, sharing the wonder of Christmas with my families. I don’t think that will leave a lot of time to stitch.

I do plan to post quite a bit more as the month goes on, but I do want to take the time to thank each of you who have been such an encouragement by your e-mails, your comments and your prayers. I cherish this community and I wish all of you the very best and beautiful of this holiday time.

For those of you who share my faith, may this season in which we celebrate the birth of our Saviour be a time of joy, great blessings and personal renewal. May God’s richest blessings be to you and to those you love!

Blessings,

Julie